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Consumers pass peak tech

News, 06 January 2016

GLOBAL: Consumers are no longer in the market for new gadgets in the same way they were until very recently, according to a new survey which suggests that demand levelled off in 2015 and will dip in 2016.

Accenture polled more than 28,000 consumers in 28 countries and found that less than half (48%) of respondents intended to buy a smartphone this year, compared to 54% who expressed that intention last year.

And while last year 38% had planned to purchase a new TV or tablet, this year that figure had fallen to 30% for TVs and 29% for tablets, The Drum reported.

"It's a combination of market saturation, a lack of new breakthrough innovations, and privacy concerns," explained John Curran, managing director with Accenture's Communications, media, and technology group.

"For the most part, [consumers] are happy with their devices and not seeking new features like they have four to five years ago," he added.

The focus for manufacturers, he argued, ought now to be on services. "By bringing together the device, the service, and the analytics to power the service in a superior customer experience, companies can re-ignite consumer demand," he said.

"By offering innovative, practical solutions to problems consumers did not know could be solved, companies can reawaken consumers' imaginations and drive another wave of upgrades."

The idea that wearables and the internet of things might pick up the slack appears wishful thinking as the survey found interest and purchase intent more or less the same as last year.

Smartwatches and fitness monitors have seen only a one percentage point increase in purchase intent to 13% for each, while connected home surveillance cameras registered a similar increase to 11%; smart home thermostats were unchanged on 9%.

After cost, security is the major factor slowing uptake: almost half (47%) of respondents cited privacy and security issues among the top three barriers to buying such connected devices.

"Until the security concerns are addressed, sales of IoT devices are likely to remain relatively modest," Curran noted. "Consumers will be careful about what data is collected and shared, on which devices, and under what conditions or agreements."

Data sourced from The Drum, Business Insider; additional content by Warc staff