Observations from Fly Over Country


I am traveling with the S.O. to middle, rural, America. It’s interesting to see what tech is being used in airports and internet hotspots. Obviously this is not a scientific poll, but you might want respond with your own observations.

In no particular order:

1. Holy cow, I’m seeing a lot of Apple Watches. Mostly the under 40 crowd, but I’m in a small store (with internet) in central Kansas, and all the kids that work here a sporting them. Same deal at the Walmarts, and the gas stations. Older folks are not wearing them.

2. Laptops. I’m an Apple user, but everything is Lenovo or Dell as you move from Missouri through Colorado. I’m from an urban area and I usually see as many MacBooks as I do PC laptops in the coffee shops, commuter train, etc. Not here.

3. Tablets. Not so much. On the plane out here most of the people had some sort of laptop. I’ve seen only a couple of iPads so far. However, we’ve seen tablets (iPads I think) in use by staff in some restaurants, and one little place was using an iPad with a keyboard as a point of sale station.

4. Phones. Back in my home turf I work with professionals. It’s 90% iPhone there. Out here I’m seeing just as many Android devices. I’m trying to talk my niece into switching to an iPhone for the iMessage thing, but she is having none of it.

Just some random observations.

The big takeaway for me is that the desktop OS is not going away soon. At least not out here.

Comments (6)

6 responses to “Observations from Fly Over Country”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    I love this kind of thing. I do the same when I travel: observe what people are really using.

    Regarding the PC going away, for sure. The issue there is that growth in the PC market is tough. But the installed base is in the billions. It won't just disappear.

  2. jimchamplin

    This might be why there's such a disconnect between the movers-and-shakers of the computer industry and reality. The surprise at how things work in "Fly Over Country."

    Hi. We're the majority of the world! The desktop OS not going away isn't news to us! :D

  3. Bats

    Nah....desktop OS is not going anyway anytime soon. However, I do believe that it's very vulnerable to fade faster if a killer business app is developed for either the Apple and Google platforms, especially if it's a PWA. It's all going to depend on cost. With you seeing Lenovo or Dell doesn't surprise me, since those two companies have established relationships and deals with their corporate clients. What I would like to know, is what OS are these Lenovo/Dell users are using? Windows 10 or Windows 7?

  4. hrlngrv

    Aside from the Apple Watches, sounds like price sensitivity rules. An Apple Watch without a Mac or iPhone does seem a bit odd, but then again lots of kids carried pagers back in pre-smartphone times.

  5. wright_is

    I'll give you a look from Germany. I live in a small town in North West Germany (Lower Saxony). I travel every day to work on the train.

    1. Smart watches - practically non-existent. I see a few Garmin, Fitbit and other sport tracking devices, but I think I've seen 2 Apple Watches and 1 Android watch in the last 3 years. I have a Fitbit Charge 2.
    2. Laptops - mainly Windows or Linux (at my current place of work, it is something like 20 ThinkPad L series with Debian and 2 with Windows 10 and 2 Yoga 3s running Windows 10. My eldest stepdaughter has a 2017 MBP 15", but other than that I rarely see Apple's going around. But in coffee shops etc. I haven't seen a single notebook in use in the last 2 years. Coffee culture is very different here and you go to a coffee shop to socialize. I also don't see them much on the train. Going over Hannover last week, there was 1 passenger using a Dell notebook, everybody else was either listening to audio on headphones. reading books or sending instant messages on their smartphones .
    3. Tablets - hardly any. I actually saw a small girl (maybe 9) on the train last week using an iPad Pro to play Minecraft, but that's the only tablet I've seen in public for ages. We went to a sushi restraunt a couple of weeks back and they handed out Samsung tablets to order food on (all you can eat buffet, delivered to the table, you just order up to 5 dishes every 10 minutes).
    4. Phones - I'd say about 80% Android around here, at work 99% Android - I work for an open source security firm, so that sways the numbers a bit. Interestingly, the boss went with a Galaxy S7, when his S3 dies last month!
    5. Pen and paper - a lot. Most school kids on the train are busy finishing off their homework, so they are busy scribbling notes or essays on paper.

    As to the desktop going away, that is something I don't see. At every company I go to, most workers are still sitting at desks, working on PCs. Where I am currently, they use Intel NUCs as thin clients, using PXE-Boot to boot a standard Linux image and they then log onto a Linux terminal server.

    At my previous employer, everybody had PCs in the office, the only people to use smartphones were the welders and mechanics working on customer sites, they were used purely for timekeeping.

    Given that cloud isn't making much impact over here - especially with the problems with most cloud providers also being active in the USA, which makes storing data on their clouds next to impossible under current conditions, it seems like local servers and desktop PCs and laptops still have a lot of life left in them.

    I tried pushing for a move to more cloud centric solutions a few times over the last few years, but it always fell on deaf ears, because the company was "losing control" of its data.

    Given the high levels of data protection over here and the fact that if your cloud provider screws up their security and your data is leaked, you are legally liable for it (penalty from May 1st is 20M Euros or 5% of annual turnover, whicher is the greater), most companies still want to take care of security themselves, if they are going to land up in court, then they want to be there through their own negligence and not because somebody else, who they had no control over, was lax with their security...

    Add in the new laws past in the USA in the last couple of weeks to the equation and it makes it pretty much an untennable decision to go with a cloud solution.

  6. Patrick3D

    Northern Illinois, observations from a System Administrator:

    Watches: maybe 3 Apple Watches total (young adults in their 20's) but a lot of women from a wide age range with Fitbits (100's of women easily, yay suburbia.) Never seen someone with an Android based watch.

    Phones: tend to mostly be whatever the best Android version was a person could get from their service provider. There is about 1 iPhone for every 50 Android phones. iPhone users tend to have older models, 4S and 6 Pro tending to mostly be what I see, and Android users tend to have a Samsung Galaxy or Note. To date, I have never once seen another person use their phone's NFC wallet to make a payment, I use Apple Pay regularly myself.

    Personal laptops: usually Acer models bought at BestBuy, if I had to guess they are probably the cheapest models sold there with the features the customer wants. I've never seen someone in public or at work with an Apple laptop of any model here. I'm sure they must exist but probably stick to places I don't go like Starbucks or Panera.

    Personal computers: mostly HP models bought at BestBuy, if I had to guess they are probably the cheapest models sold there with the features the customer wants (notice a pattern here.) Whenever someone asks me for advice on what to buy I often hear they have an older model iMac at home that has gotten too slow for them and they, or their kids, want to play games so now they are dumping Apple to go back to a Windows PC.

    Tablets: split almost 50/50 between iPad and Amazon Fire. Due to the price, a lot of parents buy their kids an Amazon Fire tablet (at BestBuy) and tend to buy a smaller model iPad for themselves. Can't recall ever seeing any other Android based tablets except for a handful of Nook E-readers. At work we have over a dozen Surface tablets (used by forklift drivers), and I've seen one person in the wild with one.

    Summary: Price matters but people will follow major nation-wide trends, so long as it is sold at BestBuy. I don't think most people here think of technology as anything more than an access point for Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, etc... with little concern for the company that makes it. There are a surprising number of people with subscriptions to multiple Internet streaming services, all trying to cut the cord, and all wanting to find the best deal that gets them their favorite sport(s) and HGTV for that one show they and/or their S.O. watches. Paul is very much riding the same wave that many people are in that regard.

    P.S. As for Linux: very common on corporate servers, but no one I've met uses it on a desktop or laptop.