Consumers Frustrated When Tackling New Technology

The big challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are too complicated to use and that setup does not proceed properly, an Accenture report found. 

consumers and technology

The vast majority (83 percent) of consumers report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smartwatches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home-connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products, according to a report from Accenture.

Across all age groups and geographic regions surveyed, 33 percent cited ease of use as the most important criteria when deciding which of these products to buy.

Twenty-nine percent said product features and functionalities are important, and 22 percent said the same about buying a trusted brand.

The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are too complicated to use (21 percent), setup does not proceed properly (19 percent) and products do not work as advertised (19 percent).

"Tech companies need a much more obsessive focus on ease of use and the complete digital experience. Too many tech companies overly focus on the hardware product features and functions," David Sovie, managing director with Accenture's electronics and high-tech group, told eWEEK. "But today the differentiation comes from the connected experience, including the mobile applications and digital services. Our survey shows that ease of use is the No. 1 purchase criteria for new types of connected devices."

The survey found that trust is also a big concern for consumers, with more than half (54 percent) admitting they are not always confident about the security of their personal data (such as email addresses, mobile phone numbers and purchasing history) on the Internet. In addition, the percentage of people who are not confident at all that the security of their personal data is protected on the Internet so they never share information this way rose from 7 percent last year to 10 percent this year.

The report also indicated that after several years of rapid growth, purchase intentions are trending downward in several major and more traditional high-tech product categories. From 2014 to 2015, the percentage of respondents who plan to purchase dropped for nine of the 13 product categories surveyed—for example, while 54 percent intend to buy a smartphone in the next year, this was a 4-point drop from 58 percent last year.

Another notable decline was in tablets, where 38 percent intend to buy one in the next year, versus 44 percent last year.

While respondents revealed relatively modest purchase intentions over the next 12 months across the newer high-tech device categories, their purchase plans are much more robust over a five-year period.

Over the next 12 months, for example, 12 percent of consumers plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor. However, within five years, 40 percent plan to do so. Within one year, 12 percent intend to buy a smartwatch, whereas 41 percent plan to do so within five years.

"After years of torrid growth for smartphones and tablets, consumers are projecting to slow down the pace of growth," Sovie said. "This is not well-understood in the industry, but the reality is that we now have very high penetration rates for smartphones, tablets and computers, so the industry is now moving into a replacement lifecycle in these traditional categories. At the same time, our survey shows the adoption rate for new categories of Internet of things-types of connected devices will be slower than most people think as many consumers take a wait-and-see attitude."