L.A. Is 2nd in Home Computer Use, Survey Shows

Los Angeles, accustomed to playing second fiddle to New York in a host of categories, is No. 2 in still another: home computers.

Between 650,000 and 660,000 households in the metropolitan Los Angeles area have personal computers, according to statistics recently compiled by Future Computing Inc., a Dallas-based marketing and research firm for the personal-computer industry. The New York metro area boasts 900,000 home computers, the greatest concentration of PCs in the country.

But in terms of percentage of households with PCs (as opposed to sheer numbers), the Los Angeles area ranks 18th, and surpasses New York in the 20th spot.

According to Future Computing statistics, which are based on a survey of 17,000 households nationwide taken in January, the Dallas-Fort Worth area ranks first, with 20% of households having a PC. Los Angeles, with 12% to 13% penetration, is close to the national average of 12.3%, said Bill Ablondi, vice president of the marketing group at Future Computing.

The ranking "has to do with the number of households that are candidates for PCs," he said in an interview from Dallas. For instance, in second-ranked Washington, where 19.1% of households have PCs, "average income is probably a heck of a lot higher" than in many other cities, he said.

Other metropolitan areas in the Top 10 of home-computer use are: San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle-Tacoma and Detroit.

Commodore computers are the preferred brand in Los Angeles and the country as a whole, Ablondi said, with 24% of the market locally and 23.9% nationwide.

The survey was designed to track the number of PCs that might be targets for home banking services in the future. Future Computing concluded, for example, that the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area is a "rich lode" for home banking because a large percentage of households with computers also have modems--the devices that allow a user to hook up by telephone with other computers.

While still a fledgling concept--"the infrastructure will take awhile to build up," Ablondi said--financial institutions are hoping that home banking will burgeon along with home computer use in the next few years. According to Future Computing projections, between 30% and 33% of U.S. households will have PCs by 1990.

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