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Tough Times Ahead for Tech?

Jan. 7, 2016
A new report finds that the smartphone market has pretty much reached maturity, planned purchase rates are flat for this year and the Internet of Things still isn’t all that disruptive. Will this be a trying year for tech manufacturers?

Gordon Moore first posited in 1965 that technological advancements, technological power – technological importance, even – would continue to double every couple of years for the foreseeable future.

But what about now?

According to the new 2016 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey, which polled 28,000 consumers in 28 countries, an era of unprecedented improvement and growth is coming to an end, or at least hitting a plateau.

Higher prices are one reason (and the end of subsidized phone costs coupled with the introduction of more continual leasing plans won’t help), and security and ease of use inhibit many from adapting more to the Internet of Things. Some other interesting notes from the report, which is available in full online:

The smartphone market has reached maturity, especially in major countries. Just 48% of consumers plan to purchase a smartphone this year, down from 54% last year and 57% in 2014. Here in the United States, that figure is even lower, just 38%, even with last year. Around the world, the planned purchase rate is 68% in India (down 4%), 61% in China (down 21%), 46% in Germany (up 1%), 27% in the United Kingdom (even) and 28% in Japan (down 6%).

The lack of new features isn’t helping that number. Among those not planning to pick up a new phone this year, almost half (47%) said they were happy with their current model, while 26% recently purchased one, 14% can’t afford one (there’s that ugly price point again) and 4% – one of every 25 people – said there was no wow factor to entice them to open their wallets.

All tech sales are sluggish … As seen in the Statista chart above, planned purchase rates across the tech world aren’t skyrocketing. Just 13% of respondents said they plan to pick up a new smartwatch (up 1% from last year), 13% will buy a fitness monitor (up 1%), 11% will get new connected home surveillance cameras (up 1%), 9% will add a smart home thermostat (even) and 7% will buy a new personal drone (up 1%). (That last number, especially, seems surprisingly low. Who knows what effect, if any, new government registration regulations will have on that part of the industry?)

… And IoT hasn’t helped yet. There might not have been a bigger buzzword in 2015 than Internet of Things, and it still has so much potential to really be revolutionary and change how we live. But there are some hangups right now, like perceived cost (a whopping 62% of respondents said they think IoT devices are too expensive, which might just be because they’re still new), security (47% cited that as a concern) and sheer confusion (23% said they’re unsure which IoT device to get, and 17% said they have no idea what they’re doing).

So … what to do? Accenture wrapped up its report with a trio of suggestions: Fixing roadblocks (like not offering compelling customer value, ensuring the best experience and building security), leveraging IoT to create new types of solutions and customer experiences, and get serious about sharing data and creating integrated services across multiple companies.

“Disruptive innovation is needed now,” the company wrote in conclusion.  “To achieve that innovation, consumer technology companies need to recognize that the most powerful innovation may come when they work together with partners, and re-think their innovation process and investment.”

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