This evening as the Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas, I took a stroll through a pavilion called CES Unveiled, where companies gather to show off some of their products early to reporters.
Alongside booths advertising home security cameras and self-playing pianos and smartphone-controllable essential oil aerosolizers, I saw a lonely booth with nothing in it but a single laptop and a company logo: Accenture.
Accenture, if you don’t know, is a massive consulting firm that specialises in helping big companies stitch together hardware and software from a bunch of different providers into solutions that help a particular business need. It’s huge, with more than 350,000 employees, and it earned more than $3 billion on $31 billion in revenue last year.
But it’s an enterprise company. So what was it doing at the Consumer Electronics Show?
Spreading the news. And the news is not good.
Accenture surveyed more than 28,000 consumers in 28 countries. Here’s what they found out:
- People are getting bored with new smartphones. Only 48% of consumers plan to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months. That’s down 6 points from last year — the first drop since Accenture started doing this survey almost a decade ago, the company’s representative Charles Hartley told me. The drop was particularly stark in China, where it went from 82% last year to only 61% this year. Of those who don’t plan to buy a new one, 47% said the main reason was because their current phone was good enough.
- They’re also bored with tablets and laptops. Similarly, the survey showed an eight-point drop in purchase intent for tablets, and a six-point drop for laptops. Overall, only 13% expected to spend more on smartphones, tablets, and laptops this year than last year. That’s compared with 33% who said they were planning to spend more in 2014 than 2013.
- Interest in new kinds of gadgets is not filling the gap. Most worryingly, interest in wearables and connected devices was flat from last year, and purchase intent is relatively low:
- A lot of people are worried about security and privacy of these new gadgets. This was perhaps the biggest surprise: The number-two reason people didn’t plan to buy one of these devices (which Accenture calls “Internet of Things” or IoT devices) was because they were worried that they would expose their personal information:
The takeaway from all this?
As Accenture puts it, companies must “ignite” the next five years of growth by coming up with products that “offer a compelling value proposition,” “ensure a superior customer experience,” and “build security and trust.”
In other words, the mobile revolution has mostly run its course, and everybody’s waiting for the next big thing to buy. The industry must do a better job coming up with new products that people want to buy, and explaining why they shouldn’t be afraid.
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