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For the first time the three most-owned devices in US households are screen devices, says the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in announcing the results of a recent study. It may not be surprising that TVs remain virtually ubiquitous and smartphones rapidly growing in household penetration. But perhaps it’s a little more unexpected that laptops have reached their highest rate of ownership yet.

The results of the study, which is based on a Q1 telephone survey of 2,016 US adults, indicate that TVs are in 96% of US homes. While traditional TV viewing has been in systemic decline, the TV universe has continued to grow, per Nielsen estimates.

Meanwhile, smartphone penetration continues to rapidly expand as older Americans increasingly adopt the devices. Smartphones are now owned in 87% of US homes, per the CTA, which notes the possibility that smartphone ownership will match TV ownership within the next 5 years.

(Millennials already spend more time using the internet on their smartphones than watching TV.)

As for laptops, their 72% penetration is their highest level yet, according to the CTA. So while smartphones now account for two-thirds of US digital media time (and mobile devices three-quarters of that time), these results suggest that computer use won’t be completely abandoned.

Here are some other highlights from the report.

  • Digital media streaming devices are now in almost half (45%) of households, up from 36% last year. These devices are taking center stage in the burgeoning growth of OTT video, according to recent comScore data. In fact, digital media streaming devices are almost as prevalent in US households as desktop computers (48%).
  • Smart speakers – one of the fastest-growing tech products in recent memory – have expanded to reach more than one-fifth (22%) of households, almost tripling their adoption rate year-over-year. (These figures have been adjusted to represent the most recent CTA data on smart speaker household ownership.)
  • Smart watches, meanwhile, are now owned in 18% of US households, up from 12% last year. Earlier data from the CTA indicates that 22% of watches sold in Q1 were smart watches, up from 18% sold in 2017.


Expand and/or click on the chart above for a full breakdown of 26 tech products’ household penetration rate.

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