Author(s): George Jijiashvili
Gaining a good understanding of emerging technology trends, particularly with smart devices, is always challenging. Ask a broad cross-section of the population about cutting-edge devices and you're likely to get a frustrating set of results, as only a small proportion of respondents own or know about the latest technologies and products.
We took a different approach with our latest end-user device survey. In October, we chose to profile 2,192 online respondents in three countries (the US, UK and Germany) who owned at least two of the following six devices: a smartwatch, a virtual reality headset, a smart speaker, a streaming video device like a Google Chromecast or an Apple TV, and a fitness tracker.
This provided us with a fantastic snapshot of what we term technology enthusiasts. Respondents had a roughly equal balance by gender, and had a wide range of ages. We believe these consumers can offer the best insights into satisfaction with existing products and future purchase intentions.
The results were extremely encouraging for consumer electronics makers: all smart products generated very strong satisfaction levels, with the US leading the way.
More details of the full survey report can be found here. Below we present a summary of some of the findings.
Among the more than 1,100 smartwatch owners we spoke to, it came as little surprise that the Apple Watch was the most popular device. The highest ownership levels were in the US and the UK. It also had the strongest engagement levels: 91 percent of owners used their Apple Watch every day or most days.
The role of sports and activity tracking was confirmed, with this capability coming second only to checking the time as the most frequent smartwatch activity.
Virtual Reality Headsets
The survey highlighted the importance of trying a virtual reality headset before purchase. Respondents who had tried one were much more likely to buy one. This demonstrates the clear need for a strong bricks-and-mortar retail presence when marketing these devices.
The length of time the 600 headset owners we surveyed use their headsets during a virtual reality session was longer than expected. Gaming remains the primary use for headsets, but watching other material is growing as a proportion of total usage.
Amazon's Echo range of products accounted for the largest proportion of devices among the 1,035 owners of smart speakers we spoke to. An impressive 84 percent of respondents said they use their smart speaker every day or most days, with a promising number stating that they use the device more than when they first got it.
Although just under half of the smart speaker owners we surveyed acknowledged they had privacy concerns about using one, it doesn't appear to have deterred them from continuing to use it.
Many respondents owned more than one smart speaker and there was evidence of them being used in more and more places around the home. We were surprised to find 8 percent of owners said they had a smart speaker in their bathroom (see below).
Smart Home Devices
We spoke to over 600 people who own smart home devices. The most popular products were smart heating thermostats and smart lights by some margin, although other devices such as smart doorbells, smoke alarms and cameras were also popular (see below).
Control, convenience and security are the main reasons for buying such products and there were very encouraging signs of further purchases of smart home products in a broad set of device categories.
Fitbit devices featured strongly among the 1,300 technology enthusiasts in our survey who own a fitness tracker. Satisfaction levels were slightly ahead of smartwatches but replacement indicators were a source of concern: a sizeable number of owners are not planning to replace or upgrade their fitness tracker.
The survey also provided data on usage of voice assistants and mobile payments on smartphones, and future purchase intentions in 13 device categories.