Consumer Electronics Association Survey of PDA Owners

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has conducted a survey questioning 649 PDA users about their purchase process, current owner’s profile, owner satisfaction and desired features. Here are the CEA survey findings taken from the CEA Web site.

The popularity of personal digital assistants (PDAs) has increased tremendously. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates total sales of 6.1 million units in 2000, representing a nearly 50 percent increase over 1999. Sales for 2001 are expected to grow by another 57 percent, to a total of 9.6 million units. But why are these devices so popular, and who is buying them? A new study by CEA provides some of these answers by examining four aspects of current PDA owners: their purchase process, the current owner?s profile, owner satisfaction and desired features.

First, it appears that PDA owners tend to be wealthy, highly educated and mostly under the age of 55. In addition, slightly more males than females tend to own the devices, and owners are overwhelmingly wired to the Internet. In fact, 93 percent of the PDA owners surveyed have Internet access at home compared to only 58 percent of the adult general population.

While this data points to PDA owners as tech-savvy consumers, only 53 percent of respondents actually purchased the product for themselves. Twenty-seven percent received the product as a gift, while another 20 percent received their PDA from their employer. And, among those owners who purchased the PDA themselves, the main reason cited for purchasing was to ?make life easier,? while only 6 percent said it was because they wanted the newest technology.

Furthermore, owners embrace the ?functionality factor? of owning a PDA. Although many respondents stated that their device is ?fun to use? (61 percent), and some stated that it ?is vital to their functioning efficiently? (37 percent), most stated that it simply helped to ?keep things organized? (70 percent).

Owners are not letting their devices sit idle, either. Ninety percent of respondents stated that they use their PDA at least once a week, while 60 percent stated that they use it ?every day.? In addition, 81 percent stated that they carry their PDA with them ?all or most of the time.?

The usage figures would imply a high level of owner satisfaction with the product, and the survey?s results confirm that fact. Seventy percent of respondents said they are ?very? or ?somewhat? satisfied while only 11 percent expressed dissatisfaction. The areas most in need of improvement included the view screen, battery life and ease of inputting data, all of which still received an above 50 percent satisfaction rate.

When asked what improvement they would make in their next PDA, the plurality (27 percent) would opt for a wireless modem. However, only 11 percent of current owners surveyed had a wireless modem, and only half of these individuals subscribe to a service that allows them to use the function. And, when those respondents who were either neutral toward or interested in wireless Internet access were asked how likely they would be to subscribe to a service at a cost of $20 a month, only 17 percent of current owners stated they would be likely to subscribe. Thus, despite a large amount of interest in this capability, relatively few owners are willing to pay extra for the service.

The ?PDA Owner Profile? study was conducted via Internet Web form to a sample of 649 adult PDA owners during December 2000. The complete study is available free to CEA member companies. Non-members may purchase the study for $499 by visiting or sending an e-mail to

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) represents more than 625 U.S. companies involved in the design, development, manufacturing and distribution of audio, video, mobile electronics, communications, information technology, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services, that are sold through consumer channels. Combined, these companies account for more than $70 billion in annual sales.

CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Your Source for Workstyle and Lifestyle Technology. All profits from CES are reinvested into industry services, including technical training and education, industry promotion, engineering standards development, market research and legislative advocacy.

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