Counting calories is a thing of the past. Today, a fitness monitor around your wrist does this job – as well as monitoring your heart rate when you’re out running. Throughout the world, users are showing a keen interest in wearable IT. Management consultancy Accenture says it will be the next big thing on the consumer market. The company wanted to find out exactly how big, so it asked around 6,000 people worldwide in the “Accenture digital consumer tech survey 2014.”
First of all, a few figures: In total, more than half (52%) of all participants said they wanted to purchase a fitness monitor. Matthias Lewren, global managing director of Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech division, sees health and wellbeing as giving key impulses in the growing segment. Some 46% of the survey participants said they wanted to buy a smartwatch, and 42% an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). And while we’re on the subject of health: Google very recently announced that it wants to create a contact lens for people with diabetes, which contains a sensor and a miniature radio chip. It would measure the blood sugar level and warn the wearer if the level becomes too high or too low. Analysts are already speculating about eyes full of IT, where smart lenses will replace smart specs.
Part smartphone, part tablet: the phablet and its focus on the Asian market
According to Accenture, the days of the tower under the table are gone for good. The company cited another trend: phablets. These small devices are part smartphone, part tablet. They are usually between five and seven inches in size. In Germany, this new type of device has yet to become firmly established, and the term used to describe it has not yet gained acceptance, either. Providers are tackling the Asian markets first, because that’s where the particularly tech-savvy customers can be found. Lewren takes India as an especially good example. Users in India have a great deal of digital experience and show the most interest in new technologies, he says. This can be proven by taking a closer look at purchase intentions. Taking the example of the fitness monitor again: 80% of people in India said they wanted to buy such a device, while “only” 37% of Canadians expressed such an intention. These two nations represent the top and bottom ends of the scale.
Next page: India and South Africa are “early adopters”
Consumer appetite appears to be strong among all those surveyed. On average, people want to spend a third more on devices in the coming year, while they want to spend almost a fifth (19%) more on mobile services. Accenture probed more deeply into the subject of mobile devices and communication. The analysts wanted to know which apps users have installed on their handhelds and which apps they want to install within the next year. The survey participants used their camera (72%), GPS driving, and games (67%) most frequently. Some 57% liked e-books, while voice or music recorders were popular among 56%.
Lewren sums up the survey results in one sentence: “Every consumer is a digital consumer.” He was interested in finding out the extent to which users are prepared to disclose personal data in return for price discounts. Here, opinion was divided. Forty percent of participants said that it was “fairly probable” that they would divulge such information if the provider abided by its country’s data protection regulations. However, 35% said that they would definitely or very probably reject such an offer. In general, passing on personal information to third parties is frowned upon. In such a case, 74% of those questioned would definitely or very probably withhold their data.
Data protection a worldwide issue
We can therefore assume that the news of data protection issues has reached users worldwide. But the same cannot be said for environmental protection and sustainability: Those who already have handheld devices still want to buy new ones, Lewren reports. Even so, 18% of the survey participants describe themselves as “early adopters,” – people who want to be the first in their peer group with the latest gadget. Another 17% see themselves as the “early majority,” which means they follow suit soon after. India again leads in these two categories, together with South Africa. According to Accenture, one of the reasons for this is the high number of young people in those countries.
The U.S.-based research and advisory firm Forrester confirms that techies are drawn to wearable technologies. This segment in still in its infancy, but by 2020 it will be part of the mainstream, claims J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst for the Infrastructure & Operations Professionals division. During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Gownder blogged that wearable technologies would already acquire 2.0 status this year.