Editorial license. (Compute magazine's readership survey on computer use) (Editorial)
by Clifton Karnes
My favorite day of the year at COMPUTE is the one when all of our readership surveys are tallied and I can see the final results. I'm fascinated by our readers and their preferences. As I turn each page, I feel like I'm uncovering part of an exciting mystery. I know that in the survey's pages, I'll discover how your tastes have changed over the last year, and if our magazine is meeting your needs.
COMPUTE's last survey, printed in the January 1992 issue, was one of our most successful yet, and I want to thank those of you who took the time to complete it and send it in. The response was overwhelming--nearly twice as large as we've ever received. Not only does this show that COMPUTE's readership is an interested and active group, but more responses make the survey's results much more significant.
I want to underscore how important these surveys are to us at COMPUTE. Knowing what kind of equipment you have, what your favorite articles are, and what you like to read about gives us the data we need to create a magazine that provides you with the information you want most.
But these surveys are important for another reason, too: They're just plain interesting. If you've ever wondered how you fit in with COMPUTE's other readers, here's a quick look at what you're like.
The first question on the survey relates to the type of computer you're using. Here we see a marked increase in 386 ownership, from 29 percent in 1991 to 35 percent in 1992. If we look at 286 and 386 machines as a group, then 72 percent of you have these advanced CPUs. It's also noteworthy that the number of you using laptops or notebooks has nearly doubled in the last year, from 5 percent in 1991 to more than 9 percent in 1992.
Just two short years ago, CGA and EGA were the dominant graphics systems, but today, it's a different story. VGA has seen spectacular growth, especially in the last year, moving from 51 percent in 1991 to 73 percent in 1992. Of this 73 percent, 24 percent of you own Super VGA systems.
In peripherals, there are several growth areas. The biggest increase is in mice, scurrying from 71 to 82 percent. We also see 3-1/2-inch disk drives spinning from 68 to 81 percent. Modems have increased their bandwidth from a healthy 58 to 64 percent. And sound cards have blasted from 12 percent to a whopping 21 percent.
When it comes to printers, the tried-and-true dot-matrix is still king of the hill with 85 percent (about 15 percent of you own laser printers).
The operating system information we received from you was a bit of a surprise. In a very short time, MS-DOS 5.0 has become your dominant operating system, with 61 percent. Digital Research's DR DOS clocks in at a respectable 5 percent.
Moving from operating systems to operating environments, Windows has been another boom area, growing from 14 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 1991 to 31 percent in 1992. GeoWorks comes in at a healthy 12 percent. In the next survey, we're going to find out how many of you are using IBM's new OS/2, version 2.0.
Looking at your favorite columns, we see something very interesting. The order of preference hasn't changed from last year, but the numbers are larger, which indicates that you're reading more of the magazine. For example, "Tips & Tools" is still the number one column, but the readership has grown from 62 percent last year to 68 percent this year. "Feedback," the number two column, was at 48 percent last year and has grown to 59 percent this year.
Looking at favorite topics, we see disk management and MS-DOS leading the list, followed closely by new hardware, how to upgrade your PC, and word processing. Just as with columns, the way you rank these hasn't changed much from last year, but each topic shows a higher percentage of readers interested in it.
With our readership changing as fast as it is, we're going to start running two surveys each year--one in January and one in July. So in this issue of COMPUTE, you'll find another readership survey and another chance to tell us a little about yourselves and your equipment.