Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Top consumer trends from Ericsson #MyThoughts

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Ericsson's trends


I love documents based on prediction, because they are beautifully hard to disprove, after all anything might happen.  I’ve just read Ericsson’s ConsumerLab report on the consumer trends of this year and it’s a fascinating look not into what scientists think is going to happen, but what the general public predict.

The problem with asking the (mainly non-science trained) general public about what they expect to happen in matters of science and technology is that they will always apply much shorter timescales to things than are generally realistic. I am possible only marginally more informed than the random sample, but here’s my reaction.

Ericsson says: Early adopters are less important

Absolutely. Innovation now happens so fast (because it has become much cheaper for people and companies to innovate) leading to so much choice, making it difficult to discern a consumer trend. This is because as soon as one product iteration has been released, it is just a few days before another spurt-of-the-new confuses the public all over again.

“Successful new products and services now reach the mass market in only a matter of years”

I think Ericsson are off with their timescales here.

With services particularly (I’m thinking software) this can actually happen in months.  The report notices the increased speed of mass adoption ‘the network effect’, but consumers are becoming more fickle. The ever changing market is teaching us to be technology magpies and we flit from one new shiny thing to another. Today it’s a smart watch, before that, Flappy Bird.

 ” as the speed of technology adoption increases, mass-market use becomes the norm much quicker than before”

I sense a tremendous marketing opportunity for services which can appear to be exclusive, whilst still benefiting from the economies of scale of a very broad appeal product. Blackberry used to know what this was like. Remember when ‘important people’ had a Blackberry handset? It was a status symbol which thanks to a quirk of its messaging service became hugely popular with the younger crowd. But then it became uncool (because we are fickle) and the brand was tarnished at the same time. The exclusivity was gone.

TV companies definitely know what this is like, and it’s why a broadcaster like ITV has diversified into a clutch of sub-brands each known for a particular specialism. ITV2 for new and trendy, ITV3 for people who prefer the way television used to be.

The kids are watching video on the internet – Streaming Natives

I fail to see why this is still worth mentioning. Its so obvious when you compare with another market like, well a market. Would you prefer to shop at the single butcher, baker or grocer for the limited amount of time they are open, or would you prefer to go to a big supermarket and do everything at once and benefit from the increased choice, the lower prices and the longer opening hours?

20% of 16-19 year olds watch more than 3 hours on YT daily

People like television, kids particularly so. When I was in my teens, my mum was forever trying to get me to stop watching TV. I watch even more TV now than I did then, mostly because it’s so much more convenient (and because I don’t live with my mum anymore and she can’t tell me off).

AI ends the screen age

No it won’t. At least not in the 5 year term predicted. First we will get more versatile screens that are bigger and that we can fold up in our pockets. As for talking to an artificial intelligent assistant. We already do that. Except we don’t. When Siri and her ilk appeared, my friends loved to experiment with it. They don’t do that anymore. (We are fickle).

Short instructions to AI systems seem to work much better. Telling my Echo speaker “Play BBC Radio 4” never gets old because I like listening to Radio 4.

50 percent of consumers think holographic screens will be mainstream within 5 years

Here’s that problem about the general public and timescales.

50 percent of consumers think holographic screens will be mainstream within 5 years? Really?  This is a technology that has yet to see life outside a lab. I have my doubts that internet-connected light bulbs will be mainstream in 5 years, and you can buy those today!

AI poll results chart

Strangely, the one thing that the general public thinks the least good of the ideas is the one I think will massively take off. VR dating. What a time-saver for the initial sift of potential spouses to happen remotely! No more uncomfortable and expensive dinners with people who are obviously not a match.

55 percent of smartphone users believe that homes will have embedded sensors within 5 years

Hooray, something I believe will happen. However, given the speed it takes to build and replenish housing stock, I don’t see this becoming anything like mass market for another decade. In the meantime, we will have to cope with a competing bunch of home sensor systems that will harm early adoption, along with the threat that your home can be hacked.

65 percent of smartphone owners are interested in an emergency app, which would alert them in a crisis or disaster, and provide verified, rumor free information

Only 65%? I wonder what the rest wanted? This is clearly a new and necessary role for public service broadcasters. I see a renewed need for organisations like the EBU (aka Eurovision) to provide links between trustworthy newsrooms and maybe have direct access into their various apps to provide and share exactly this kind of infomation.

Everything gets hacked

It’s fascinating that people have caught onto the probability that consumer electronics security is an if not when event. I know many professionals who haven’t worked that one out. Although again, the thing they rate as least likely, wearables, I rate the opposite.

Hacking poll results chart

I wonder if people are actually rating the effect a hack might have on them and seeing wearables as immaterial. Either way, they are wrong.

One statistic stands out to me: 43 percent think we will be required to identify ourselves whenever we use the internet within the next 3 years. The creeping surveillance state propaganda appears to be working.

In summarising, the report (like many) quotes William Gibson: the future is already here. Though it suggests that future is much more evenly distributed this time round.  I am not so sure.

The things that still matter, are still the things which require the most effort, or the most money, or both: A breakthrough medicine for HIV, replacements for the ticking timebomb of antibiotics, a reusable rocket, the self driving car or what we end up doing with our rubbish.



Written by Robert

19 January, 2016 at 8:57 pm

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