Computer-Human Interaction, an annual conference held in Boston , Thomas Beauvisage, a researcher at Orange Labs in France, presented a study on the use of computers in everyday life. This study consisted in installing a tracing software in the computers of 661 French voluntary and representative households for 19 months (between 2005 and 2006) to measure accurately the daily computing uses of the members of the household (and not to stop at data reporting). The software measured the software running on the computer and proposed to each of its ignitions and after 30 minutes of inactivity a pop-up window for the user to identify himself to know who in the home was in the process of use. Despite the many limitations of the study (8% of households reported having installed the software on more than one computer, while 18% said they had several computers …), this one brings some interesting lessons. People use their computer on average 23 days a month and on average a little over 7 hours a day … But in fact, the average daily real usage is rather around 2:51. Most of the time, computers are turned on all day, day and night, with peaks of effective activity between 9 am and 11 am and between 4 pm and 9 pm. The study made it possible to distinguish several types of profiles according to the intensity of the use of the computer: Those whose computers are turned on 24 hours a day (15% of the panel) consider the computer as a resource that must always be accessible. Yet they only use it for an average of 3.5 hours a day. But this behavior often corresponds to a significant use of P2P, multimedia software and instant messaging. Those whose computer is always available (33%), which is lit at first use and that closes at night, also show a strong use of instant messaging. Those whose computers are on demand (30%) and who tend to shut down the computer after short usage sessions, instead use desktop applications, web and email. Those who have a low usage (22%) correspond to those who used their computer less than 15 days a month and who have uses close to the previous group. Surprisingly, points out Thomas Beauvisage, socio-demographic factors have a weak role in these differences of use, much less in any case than software preferences. The researcher also notes that there is a great variability of the time of use between the individuals and the home. The average effective time of use per individual is 9 hours per week, but 25% of the 1434 individuals who made up the sample use the computer less than 1h14min per week and 25% of the most active use it more than 14 hours per week. But when we compare the use of individuals and households, we find that in a quarter of homes made up of more than two people, there is a non-user of the computer. In homes of two users, the most active user spends 83% of the time in front of the computer, and this hardly progresses in homes of more than two users. More than highlighting the competition for access within households, the study notes that there is the main user and that the secondary user tends to keep a moderate use because it has less of interest in the use of the computer or because it delegates certain tasks to the main user. Average weekly usage time of the applications by the panel What do users spend their time? On this side, the study brings little surprise compared to what we already knew. Of the average 9-hour week spent on their computer, the Internet accounts for 63% of computer use (or 5h35 minutes) and of this 63 %, 71% (3h57 minutes) is dedicated to the web. If we discard the management of the computer (file manipulation, transitions between applications …), it is the games and instant messaging that arrive after, each totaling 45 minutes of use per week. Looking at the use of different applications, the study finds that the 5 applications most used by individuals account for 83% of the average usage time of computers. However, small users do not focus on certain applications while others, more “advanced” (games, P2P, multimedia) would be reserved for intensive users. No, computer usage patterns seem rather be related to the individual choices of certain applications, regardless of the intensity or frequency of use. The study highlighted 5 user profiles: Internet users (42% of the panel) massively use their computer for the web, without developing more uses.
experts than other categories of users (they do not buy more online than others). Chatters (30%) use instant messaging more than others (38% of computer use compared to 8% in other categories), as well as multimedia applications and games, and have a more intensive use mobile phones and SMS. 51% of the profiles in this group are under 25 years old. 60% are women. Players (11%) use the game more heavily (42% of their computer use). 32% are under 25 years old, but 61% of the total time played by members of this category is casual games. Multimedia (14%) consumes a lot of multimedia content and audio and video software, as well as P2P software, data logging, and security tools. Users in this group are mostly men (65%) who often live alone (22%). Serious people (18%) prefer office applications (20% of the time spent) and mail (16%) and are more likely to use computers professionally. . Thomas Beauvisage wants to see several concrete applications to this work: Improve the design of operating systems: Reducing the launch time of the computer is essential for users with low usage; the preloading of the 5 most used applications according to an automatic detection system would also seem to be able to improve the efficiency of our machines … Improve the design of applications and services: each type of individual seems to constitute its own territory of applications, which means that it is certainly better to think about the service offerings according to this type of behavior and that it is better to propose add-on to existing applications, rather than seeking to develop new independent services. Towards web services: the web appears as the most shared application of computer users and is at the heart of the interest of 4 out of 10 users! Surely, web applications certainly have more future than software, predicts Thomas Beauvisage. The evolution of the web since 2006 seems to give it a little more reason every day.