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.
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
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.