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Who's Using What PCs and Devices?

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Link-Up Digital

What’s everyone else up to? When it comes to making decisions, knowing what other people have decided isn’t the only thing worth investigating, but it can help you make better choices.

Market share continues to evolve and change with personal computers, smartphones, and software. One good way to gauge who’s using what is how they connect to websites.

We think of PCs as giving way to smartphones, but the largest percentage of people still connect to the Web using PCs, according to the Federal Digital Analytics Program (DAP), whose figures are based on the past three months of visits to government websites.

According to DAP, which is part of the U.S. General Services Administration, 59.0% of visitors use a personal computer compared to 35.1% who use a smartphone and 5.9% who use a tablet.

Most of these personal computer users use Windows PCs. Of all visitors, 49.2% use Windows PCs while 9.2% use Macs. Visitors who use Chromebook laptops and the Chrome OS are at only 1.1%.

The trend, however, is toward more smartphone use, which is reducing PC use, in particular Windows PC use. The percentage of visitors using Windows PCs dropped to 49.2% from 58.4% over the past year and a half.

Of Windows versions, the venerable Windows 7 is still the most popular, more than four years after the release of Windows 8 and nearly a year and a half after the release of Windows 10.

According to DAP, 26.2% of visitors use Windows 7 compared to 17.2% with Windows 10 and 3.5% with Windows 8.1. Users of older versions of Windows—XP and Vista—each make up less than 1%.

Apple’s iPhone has the lead when it comes to smartphone users, with 22.9% of visitors using iOS. In second place, not far behind, is Android, with 16.8% of visitors using it on Samsung and other smartphones. Other makers of Android smartphones include Google, LG, HTC, OnePlus, and Motorola. Windows Phone and Blackberry users make up a tiny percentage of users.

Usage is preceded by sales, with the latter boosting the former over time. According to data collected by market research firm Kantar Worldpanel, with smartphone sales Apple’s iPhone has the lead here as well, though it’s slight.

Apple iPhones—the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 6s—accounted for 31.3% of smartphone sales in the U.S. over the most recent three months while Samsung’s smartphones accounted for 28.9%.

When other makers of Android smartphones are taken into consideration along with Samsung, Android smartphones accounted for more sales than iOS smartphones, 55.3% versus 43.5%. Sales of Windows Phones are far behind at 0.8%.

What about the browsers people use to connect to the Web? According to DAP, by far the largest percentage of visitors use Google Chrome, at 44.5%.

This is followed by Safari, Apple’s browser, at 25.4%, Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s browser, at 15.5%, Firefox at 7.4%, and Edge, Microsoft’s Windows 10 browser, at 3.5%.

For Web browsers, the DAP figures combine browsing from all platforms, personal computers as well as smartphones and other devices. This accounts for the high use of Safari, which is the default browser on all Apple platforms, Macs as well as iPhones and iPads.

A Windows version of Safari was available from 2007 to 2012 but it has since been discontinued. Users of iPhones and other Apple devices can optionally download and use Google Chrome, and based on the numbers, many do.

Popularity comes and goes. Opera, created by a Norway company and now owned by a Chinese company, once had an appreciable market share in the U.S. At its height, Microsoft Internet Explorer owned 90% of the market.

Regarding personal computer sales, the six manufacturers who sold the most PCs during the most recent three months are Lenovo at 21.7%, HP at 20.4%, Dell at 14.8%, Asus at 7.5%, Apple at 7.5%, and Acer at 6.9%, according to market research firm Gartner.

Market research firm IDC has the same top five, though it switches the order of Asus and Apple, with Apple number four and Asus number five.

Though PC shipments as a whole fell slightly from the previous year, continuing a five-year trend as a result of cannibalization from robust smartphone and tablet sales, Lenovo, HP, and Dell saw a slight increase. 

Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at or

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