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Smartphones approach TVs as most owned tech product

4K UHD, digital streaming devices and smart speakers among fastest growing tech, says CTA study


Smartphones continue their meteoric popularity and are now owned in 87 percent of U.S. homes, second only to televisions at 96 percent ownership, according to new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) research. The study also shows that for the first time, the top three most-frequently owned tech products are now screen devices, as laptops – trailing only TVs and smartphones – reached their highest ownership level ever at 72 percent. 

“‘The Three Screens’ – TVs, smartphones and notebook computers – now dominate the kinds of tech devices Americans have in their home, speaking to consumers’ desire to be connected and entertained, anytime and anywhere,” said Steve Koenig, vice president of market research, CTA. “The rapid ascent of smartphone ownership in U.S. households exemplifies the versatility of these devices – for communication, for entertainment, for productivity and more. And because of that, it’s possible we’ll see smartphone ownership in the U.S. match that of TVs within the next five years.”

Emerging Tech – Smart Speakers, Smartwatches and More

Among new, emerging tech categories, smart speakers including the Amazon Echo and Google Home have nearly tripled in ownership rate to reach 22 percent1 of American households, making it one of the fastest-adopted technologies since tablets. Smartwatch adoption continues to grow, with 18 percent of U.S. households now owning at least one of the devices – an increase of six percentage points over last year. Additionally, ownership rates of drones and virtual reality (VR) headsets were measured at ten and 11 percent of households, respectively.

Consumers Remain Focused on The Big Screen

Next-gen screen technologies and the availability of larger screen sizes drove more U.S. consumers to buy technology in and around the TV. 4K Ultra High Definition televisions experienced the largest growth in household ownership rate, rising 15 percentage points year-over-year to reach 31 percent households ownership, and one in five (19 percent) households owns a TV with a screen size of 60 inches or bigger. Ownership of digital media streaming devices rose nine percentage points since last year to 45 percent of households.

“It’s no surprise that emerging categories such as smart speakers and VR are among the products consumers anticipate buying the most” said Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends, CTA. “Many of these devices incorporate new technologies and features – artificial intelligence, voice recognition, faster processing – and at the same time provide a smarter way to communicate or experience content.”