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The Tech Landscape of California: Insights into Digital Preferences, Trends, and Influences

From Silicon Valley's innovation hub to emerging startups, explore California's dynamic tech and electronics scene in our latest article.
Tech in California

California, which is often hailed as the tech mecca of the world, is home to Silicon Valley and a thriving tech industry. Global tech platforms like Google, Apple, and Facebook (now Meta), are among the prominent players headquartered in this state. 

As the undisputed global leader in technological innovation, California’s tech workforce amounts to nearly 1.5 million people, representing 7.7% of the overall state workforce. Moreover, California’s tech industry also delivers an economic impact of $536 billion, equivalent to 16.7% of the state’s economy. 

The state also hosts the highest number of billionaires in the United States, with Forbes counting 186 of them, primarily hailing from the tech sector. Notable tech titans such as Google’s cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as Snapchat’s founder Evan Spiegel, are among these tech billionaires. 

California is also home to a vibrant startup scene, with thousands of new tech companies being founded each year. This startup culture benefits from a history of innovation, generous venture capital investments, and a supportive environment for emerging businesses.

Apple Park, the corporate headquarters of Apple, Inc.

With its tech-savvy and affluent residents, it’s intriguing to explore how Californians perceive and utilize various technological products and trends. To gain insights into California’s tech preferences and usage patterns, we surveyed 531 individuals from California, allowing us to understand how the state’s residents engage with the latest innovations and digital trends.

Tech professionals and marketers can leverage these findings to tailor their marketing and sales strategies to meet the specific needs and interests of California’s tech users. Explore the comprehensive results of our study below.

California’s Tech Preferences

Nowadays, Americans are connected to the digital world through smartphones and other mobile gadgets. A recent Pew Research Center study found that nearly every American (97%) has a cellphone, with 85% owning a smartphone. This is a big jump from just 35% in 2011 when they first started tracking smartphone ownership. 

Indeed, this high ownership of smartphones is reflected in their usage, especially in California. An overwhelming 81.9% of Californians surveyed indicated that smartphones are their preferred and most commonly used device.

Laptops and tablets follow in popularity, with 31.6% and 28.2% of respondents, respectively, indicating frequent usage. These figures highlight the importance of portable and versatile devices, suggesting that Californians highly value flexibility and convenience in their technological interactions.

Desktop usage seems relatively lower, with only 16.4% of respondents indicating its frequent use.

Meanwhile, 26% of the respondents said that they regularly use SmartTV. Smartwatches, at 7.3%, signify a niche market, primarily used for health tracking, notifications, and quick access to information on the go.

California's Tech Landscape: Californian’s Most Frequently Used Device

Californians’ News Sources and the Rising Influence of Social Media

Around 36.3% of respondents indicated social media as their primary source of news and information, underscoring the pervasive influence of digital platforms in shaping Californians’ information landscape. Television closely followed, garnering the attention of 30.9% of participants. Meanwhile, news websites/apps secured a notable 25.8% share, indicating the growing reliance on digital news platforms for staying informed.

California's tech landscape: Californian’s Primary Source for News and Information Access

A new study has also revealed that young Americans under 30 increasingly trust information from social media as much as they trust national news outlets. About half of 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States have trust in information from social media sites, just slightly below the 56% who trust information from national news organisations. This trend underscores the shifting landscape of information consumption among younger generations.

Online Upskilling

During the pandemic, short online courses boomed, according to Coursera, as people became interested in upskilling and reskilling. 

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the registered online learners in Coursera were just 44 million. It increased to 71 million in 2020 and 92 million in 2021.

Courses about data analytics, project management, UX design, and IT support are some of the most in-demand, according to Coursera

For people in California, at least 31.6% said that they use online platforms to learn new skills or improve their crafts. However, the majority (68.4%) of respondents indicated that they have not yet taken advantage of online platforms for these purposes.

Tech-Infused Living: E-Homes in California

With rapid technological progress, homeowners are increasingly able to embrace the convenience, efficiency, and added security that smart homes provide.

As a state known for innovations, it’s unsurprising that tech is heavily integrated into the homes of people in California. California consistently ranks among the top 5 states with the most smart home listings. Our survey showed that more than half (50.8%) of the respondents said that they have smart home devices. 

In terms of virtual reality or augmented reality devices, the survey also found that Californians are still hesitant to embrace these types of technologies. Only 11.5% of respondents reported having ever used VR or AR devices. 

The survey also found that Californians are more likely to use virtual assistant technologies than VR/AR. Over a fifth of respondents (21.7%) reported using a virtual assistant, with Siri being the most popular choice (66.1%), followed by Amazon Alexa (50.4%). 

Californians' Most Frequently Used Virtual Assistant

Online Security in the Digital Age

However, amid California’s tech prosperity, concerns regarding cyber threats like security breaches and identity theft loom large. 

In 2022, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation received more than 800,000 cybercrime-related complaints. FBI’s Internet and Crime Complaint Center said over $10 billion was lost last year – $3.1 billion higher than the $6.9 billion reported in 2021. 

This growing number of cybercrimes has raised concern among Americans. This is also evident in California as seven out of ten people surveyed said that online privacy is ‘extremely important’ to them.

California’s Shopping Landscape: The Rise of E-Commerce

The surge in online shopping has fundamentally altered our buying habits. Now, instead of contending with the hustle and bustle of the mall, people are finding what they need with a few clicks and enjoying the convenience of home delivery. Reflecting this shift, US e-commerce sales reached an all-time high of $277.6 billion in the second quarter of 2023. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, with the number of online shoppers in the US expected to climb from 2022’s 268 million to nearly 285 million by 2025.

Our survey also shows that the majority or 68.5% of Californians use mobile apps for their online purchases. This aligns with Gallup’s research on Americans’ reliance on smartphones for daily activities. Notably, the use of smartphones for online purchases has seen significant growth, increasing from 11% in 2015 to 42% in 2022, marking a 31-percentage-point rise.

When it comes to selecting online shopping apps, two giants stand out in California – Amazon and Walmart. A staggering 88.5% of mobile app shoppers turn to Amazon for their retail shopping, while Walmart secures 37.4% of the market. The data showcases the dominance of these retail powerhouses, reaffirming their position as go-to destinations for digital shoppers in the state.

Trailing behind but still making a notable impact are Target (23.4%), eBay (20.1%), and Etsy (7.4%), each catering to their unique customer base with diverse product offerings. Meanwhile, a segment of 14.3% opts for “Other” platforms, suggesting the presence of niche and specialty apps catering to specific preferences.

Californian’s Most Frequently Used Online Shopping Apps

The survey also found that Californians are heavily influenced by promotions when making purchasing decisions. The average ranking for promotion as a factor in buying a new tech gadget was 4.2, the highest of any factor. This was followed by friends’ recommendations (3.9), reviews (3.4), features (3.2), brand (3.6), and price (2.7).

Top Factors Influencing Califonia's Tech Gadget Purchase Decision

To Wrap Up

California’s tech culture continues to shape the state’s digital landscape and consumer behaviour. Survey findings highlight Californians’ strong preference for smartphones, laptops, and tablets, emphasising their inclination towards convenient and mobile tech interactions.

Regarding information consumption, the survey underscores the reliance on social media for staying informed. Moreover, the data emphasizes the growing importance of online learning platforms, with many respondents utilizing them to acquire new skills and enhance their crafts.

While interest in smart home technology and virtual assistants is apparent, the survey suggests a reluctance to embrace VR and AR devices. 

Amid the tech prosperity, concerns regarding cyber threats have grown large, as indicated by the notable increase in cybercrime-related complaints and financial losses over the years. The survey echoes Californians’ deep-seated worries, with the majority stressing the critical significance of online privacy in their digital interactions.

Furthermore, the dominance of Amazon and Walmart in mobile app-based shopping underscores their unparalleled influence and market share. The survey highlights the pivotal role of promotions in influencing purchasing decisions, underscoring the significance of marketing strategies in the tech consumer market.

Interested in exploring more detailed insights? We invite you to book a demo with us today to access an in-depth look into Californian consumers. You’ll get special access to our full report, packed with valuable data, interactive charts, and expert analyses. Don’t miss this opportunity and book a demo now.

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