Consumers Like Devices That Work

AR-BlueScreen.jpgAccenture management and consulting group released a study they recently completed about consumers attitudes on "Intelligent Devices That Frequently Crash or Freeze". Their conclusion was that consumers don't like devices that frequently crash and freeze. Duh.


A Business Wire article about the study noted, "Fifty one percent expressed some frustration with at least one of their more frequently used devices in the last six months. Device crashing (that is, freezing, not responding, and needing to be restarted) is by far the most common source of frustration - cited by 39 percent of respondents. This was twice as much as other causes such as concerns over privacy and data security, too much effort being required to use the device, and limited functionality. This number increased to 49 percent among those aged 18 - 24, suggesting that younger people have less patience when it comes to devices not functioning properly." Young people have the right idea.


I was surprised that so few consumers found crashing and freezing frustrating - only 39%?!? Even fewer were concerned with security issues. Who are these people? Me, I can point out the holes and dents in my last house that were caused by my fist after computer crashes. But hey, maybe the 2000+ consumers Accenture interviewed were a lot mellower about this stuff than I am. If a device freezes it changes in my mind from a useful tool into just another paperweight or boat anchor (depending on its size), which is ideal for nothing except practicing my fastball or my clear and jerk technique. 


Survey responders were more adamant about simplicity - 53% wanted device designers to "keep it simple" and have fewer functions that worked better. I also sympathize with this notion. For me there are only two kinds of functionality - it either does what you want or it doesn't. Functionality is a lot like music - good music is what you want to hear right now while bad music is everything else. Same with functionality, it either helps to solve your problem or it's useless.


The last "surprise" of this survey was that consumers want new devices that have clear cost benefits over current models before they will open their wallets. From the BusinessWire article, "cost was found to be the overwhelming reason (81 percent) discouraging consumers from using completely new innovative solutions." According to Jean-Laurent Poitou, global managing director of Accenture Embedded Software. "The 'cool factor' is no longer enough. Consumers, especially younger ones, seek simpler, more intelligent devices with just the right number of useful functionalities."


While this survey was focused on consumer devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and white goods, consumers' feelings about when technology advances justify replacing a current device are equally valid for specialty audio. AN incremental improvement is far less likely to spur an audiophile towards an upgrade than it would have twenty years ago. The combination of increased prices and more rapid innovation makes it seem to many audiophiles that no sooner than they finish paying for a component the manufacturer and dealer have a newer version available, which makes them feel stupid for not waiting longer between purchases. This only has to happen once for a consumer to feel "once burned, twice shy" and far less likely to jump on the next upgrade that comes along. 

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