10 consumer tech trends for 2013 [research]

Accenture just released its report on consumer tech trends 2013, nicely timed to coincide with the CES 2013. A few interesting short term trends emerge for 2013. If you hurry, you might still be in time to get some business ideas from it ;)

1. Consumers ditch gaming devices, cameras and MP3 players for smartphones and tablets

People are dumping camera’s, DVD players, music players and gaming devices because they just love multifunctional smartphones and tablets. “Single function devices will be increasingly at risk,” says Accenture, although there are a few exceptions like GPS devices.

2. TV’s are becoming multiple function devices

TV’s are becoming “multiple function” as consumers increasingly use them to read news, browse the web or read e-mail. Like TV’s, PC and tablets and smartphones, Accenture expects “double digit growth”.

consumer tech trends

3. For e-mail, consumers still prefer their PC

Most e-mailing is still done on a PC and only on the PC. For other things like reading, music and tv shows and movies, users  are more likely grab the first device that they can get their hands on.

4. People watch a LOT of TV and film on their PC

Interestingly, people watch huge amounts of tv and movies on their PC. Even more surprisingly, they indicate that this ability to switch between tv and PC is so important for them that they would consider paying extra to watch TV shows or movies on their computer (don’t say that too loudly).

5. People trust apps and mobile devices, even for payments and health

This was perhaps the most surprising conclusion to me. People have an implicit trust in their mobile devices and apps. Almost half the surveyed consumers already do payments in stores using tablets or phones, or consider doing payments with their devices.

About 10 percent of the consumers already use apps and mobile devices to transfer health data (test results) to a remote location. 15 percent say they “manage their health or that of family online” (weirdly, though, this percentage is down from 26 % in 2010).

This means that consumers have some kind of implicit trust in apps and their phone, although phones can be lost, and apps can be developed by anyone. It might be a sign that Apple has a point when it says that it needs to filter apps before they are sold: if consumers are so trusting, it’s probably better to patronize them a bit and protect them from scams.

6. Every phone user (100 %) knows which operating system they are using

Speaking of App Stores, every phone user (100 %) seems to know exactly which operating system he or she is using, but they’re not against trying a new one next time around: “consumers are open to experimenting in search of the most satisfying devices and experiences”.

7. Cloud based services are on the rise

Almost any kind of cloud based service is growing – be it mail, games, photo storage, streaming, calendars, documents and data backup. Chinese consumers are driving a lot of growth in microblogging, with over half of them indicating that they use a microblogging service every week.

8. Consumers download one app per week

People are experimenting to see which app offers the best experience. All generations are downloading payment and banking apps as well as shopping apps.

On average, consumers are downloading one app per week (with financial apps leading the way). In an impromptu Twitter interview, Horace Dediu of Asymco told me yesterday that app downloads might now be flattening out at about 5,5 app downloads per month:

9. Demand for consumer tech stays high

Demand for consumer tech stays high, says Accenture, but device makers will have to work on creating “superstacks” – nicely integrated bundles of hardware, services, software and peripheral hardware, “either on their own or through acquisitions and innovative alliances”.

10. Ironically, this might lead to the demise of ‘ecosystems’

When reliability becomes more important, because so many apps and third party devices (think smart thermostats like Nest), it’s not unthinkable that the very nature of ecosystems comes under pressure. From the report:

With Internet-connected apps embedded in home and personal devices from televisions to thermostats, the apps and services consumers value may be as important—and drive more purchase decisions—than the device.

This may mean that to stay relevant, device makers need to work across their ecosystems to combine the best features of the platform (seamless experience and content transfer) with cloud-based, platform-agnostic services and functionality to provide consumers with the flexibility they desire.

If you can switch all your data and apps from one ecosystem to the other, what’s the point of keeping an ‘ecosystem’?

It might already be underway. If you think about it, it’s weird that 100 % of users know the operating system they use, because, who cares. It could be interpreted as a sign that people are bothered by the fact that they’re forced to choose an ‘ecosystem’ that’s incompatible with others.

They make great business sense of course, as business model guru Alexander Osterwalder recently wrote in the WSJ: essentially it’s ‘moving from a transactional business model to recurrent revenue from the same customers’.

And Apple will of course tell us that it’s important to control both hardware and software to guarantee quality and trust.

But the ecosystems will face pressure from both app and hardware makers, who have to keep their apps working on different operating systems at great costs. At the same time, customers will get fed up with having data locked in or lost when they want to move from one system to another. (“Introduce switching costs for consumers” is another tip Osterwalder gives to drive profits, by the way).

So the question is: will users and developers pick a winner (or two at most), or will the operating systems converge to a common standard and thus make themselves obsolete?

Now, tell us what you think of these trends in the comments!

Photo: Retis, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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