Editorial license. (home computer market) (Industry Overview)
by Clifton Karnes
At COMDEX/Fall, held this past October in Las Vegas, Nevada, printer manufacturer Star Micronics hosted a breakfast press conference to present the results of a Gallup survey it had commissioned on the home computer market.
Some of the results were startling, some were what we expected to hear, but all pointed to a growing, healthy home computer market. Here are some highlights.
According to the survey, about 25 percent of all American households have home computers. That's no surprise. The news is that 23 percent of all households plan to buy a computer in the next two years. That's 21 million households.
Of this 21 million, roughly one-quarter are upgrading; the majority, however, are first-time buyers. This means that the installed base of home computers is going to nearly double in the next two years.
Why are all these Americans buying PCs? The three E's: earnings, entertainment, and education.
Of those planning to buy a machine, nearly half say they're going to use their new computer to earn money. This was a surprise, as was the fact that nearly a third of all home machines are currently being used to earn income.
A large number--76 percent--say they want to use their PCs to bring work home. More than half of this group think that the computer will increase their chance of a promotion (or increase their chance of keeping their present job if their company downsizes).
About 80 percent of those planning to buy a PC say they're interested in the machines as educational tools--both for their children and themselves.
Of those planning to buy for the first time, 59 percent state that they want a computer to play games. For those upgrading, this number is slightly higher--about 62 percent.
Obviously, there's a lot of overlap in these figures. It's clear that most people planning to buy a PC are interested in all three areas--home office, education, and entertainment.
What does all this boil down to? In short, a phenomenal growth in home computing that's being fueled by a combination of interests in home office, education, and entertainment.
At COMPUTE, we have more than a passing interest in the home computer market. For 13 years, it's been our mandate as a magazine to serve this exciting and constantly evolving group. We're dedicated to the home computer as a tool for the entire family.
And as Star's Gallup survey shows, the home market is anything but one-dimensional. In fact, home users place demands on their machines that far exceed the responsibilities given to the home PC's corporate cousins.
Nothing demonstrates this multifaceted nature of home computing or shows the range of COMPUTE's coverage better than our annual COMPUTE Choice Awards, where we choose the best software and hardware products for the year.
In this issue, you'll find our choices of the best products for 1991 in the categories of home office, entertainment, discovery (education), and technology.
A look at this year's Choices will convince you that home computer users are a varied and exciting group. The awards show that home users are interested in everything from the best operating systems to the tops in education for their children, from the most demanding fantasy/role-playing game to the best utility, from the hottest arcade action to the most feature-rich programming language.
Star's Gallup survey and our own COMPUTE Choice awards give a clear idea of home computer users in broad strokes, but we're interested in our readers as individuals, too. That's why, every few months, we include a readership survey in our pages. In this issue, you'll find such a survey, and we hope you'll take the time to fill it out. This survey will provide us with specific information about you, your equipment, what you like about COMPUTE, and what you'd like to see changed. We use the results from these surveys to fine-tune COMPUTE so it's the magazine you want. Talk to us. We're listening.