404 How Much Electronic Glass Do You Own?

How Much Electronic Glass Do You Own?

I finally got around to a project I have been wanting to do for a while. I figured out how much sq ft of electronic glass is in use in my home. Benedict Evans loves to point out a stat from Corning on how much square ft of glass is shipped each year. Benedict tweeted out yesterday that estimates were that over 4b square feet of glass will be shipped in 2014. While I like the broad statistic of glass shipment estimates, I was struck with the question of whether we can break that estimate down to a forecast per person. So I decided to start with myself.

I measured, then did the maths, and figured out that I have just over 25 square ft of electronic glass in use in my home. If I were to tally up all the electronic glass from devices and gadgets not in use, it would be much higher. Now I fully recognize I am in the minority. There are 4 people in my household that is a little more than the US average, but I have way more than the average electronics in use. So I decided to include some “normals” in this experiment as well.

As I went to friends and families houses over the past few weeks, I tallied up their amount of electronic glass as well. In all, I surveyed 15 households. I was careful not to include people in the tech industry. Most of those I surveyed were in industries like education, police and fire, construction, and agriculture. It was interesting to see the mix of devices both of platforms and screen size in each household. After measuring and doing the maths, I came up with an average of 14.2 square feet of glass in actively being used in the 15 households I surveyed. That is likely even a bit high for the US average, but I’m guessing it’s fairly close given the mix of devices I saw in each household that maps with many of the device trends we have seen in the US for the past few years. In each house, the largest piece of electronic glass was obviously the TV. Each household also had more PCs than tablets, and every member owned a smartphone.

Clearly every area of the US will differ in this average. I’d bet the average in Silicon Valley or New York is different from the average of a rural area in Kentucky. Going further, the US average would be much higher than the average of China or India. While forecasting this would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish. But I like living in the tension of the question. What will the average square ft of glass be per person, per household, per company, be in 2014? 2015? How about 2020?

We forecast specific devices and form factors. Sometimes we forecast screen size volumes, but rarely do we just look at square foot of glass in use per person. If it is “all just glass” then this seems like another dimension worth thinking about.

  • Martin

    29 square feet. Family of 4, non-tech public employee. I’d say we’re average to below average for our area (south OC) which tends toward high-income, high-education, high-tech. 60+” TVs are routine here.

    3 years ago we would have had about 5 square feet. We’re late bloomers.

    I’m skeptical we’ll add much in the next decade, though. I think smart windows would be tempting and that’s a whole new category that would increase average sq ft per household by nearly an order of magnitude. More likely we’ll add more electronic glass items, but not ones of significant size.