REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 8, 2001 — Two decades after its introduction by IBM Corp., the personal computer (PC) has become the most important technology in the workplace and rivals the television’s prominence in the home, according to a recent Gallup survey commissioned by Microsoft Corp.
At work, the Gallup survey shows the PC’s impact to be more profound than that of any other technology. At home, the PC and the television have the same influence: Equal numbers of respondents identify the PC and the television as the most important technology in their home. Overall, the study shows that PC use continues to grow rapidly, with people looking to their PC to do more, both at home and in the workplace.
The poll, conducted by the Gallup Organization in late July, involved interviews of more than 1,000 workplace and home PC users. Microsoft commissioned the research to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC, which it celebrates today with a dinner hosted with Intel Corporation at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.
“These results clearly demonstrate how essential the PC has become to people’s home and work lives,” said John Frederiksen, general director of Windows® XP at Microsoft.
“Twenty years ago, no one would have predicted the prominent role the PC now plays in the home and the office. We look forward to developing innovative technologies that continue to make the PC an indispensable technology for everyone.”
The PC Is Considered Crucial at Home
At home, people now use the PC an average of 11 hours a week, most commonly for e-mail, the Web, games and educational purposes, the Gallup survey found. Almost half of the respondents use their PC for listening to music and communicating in real time over the Internet through instant messaging or voice calls. The majority of users also report using the PC at home for work-related reasons, giving them more freedom to work in different locations.
Home PC users strongly agree that the PC allows them to stay in touch with friends and family, helps them learn and stay informed, and makes life more fun. Moreover, more than 80 percent of PC users with children agree that a home PC will help their children learn, and that it is important for their children to understand computers at an early age. Three-quarters of respondents encourage their children to use a computer at home.
Today, the average home PC user has owned a computer for approximately five years. As many as 20 percent have owned a home PC for 10 years or more, and about 30 percent have more than one PC in use in their home. PC penetration is still growing as well — around 20 percent of respondents report having used a PC for a year or less. The majority of users believe the importance of the PC has increased in the past two years, and they expect to use their computers for an even wider array of purposes in the future.
The PC Is the Most Important Technology at Work
At work, the PC’s influence is far greater than that of any other technology, according to the poll. The majority of workplace PC users, 58 percent, consider the computer to be their most important device at work. This compares to 19 percent for the telephone, 8 percent for the cellular phone, and 4 percent for the fax and copy machine. Expert PC users see the computer as more important than any other device in the workplace. The average worker now uses the PC for 22 hours per week, with sending e-mail, browsing the Internet and accessing the company’s network among the top uses. About 12 percent of people use a laptop as their primary work computer.
The vast majority of workplace users agree the PC helps them be more productive, is a key technology for communicating with colleagues, allows them greater flexibility and control over their work, enables them be more creative, and is important to advancing their career. Perhaps most important, the majority of business users believe the computer helps them enjoy their job. Today, the average workplace user has been using a PC for eight years. Nearly six in 10 business users say their computer has become more important in their lives during the past year or two, and virtually all predict it will maintain or increase its prominence in the future.
The complete report can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/pc20/material.asp .
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The survey results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 502 home PC users and 503 who use a computer at work. All interviews were conducted from July 25 through Aug. 1, 2001. Results based on each sample of N=500 have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
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