This latest report for 2016 provides insights gathered from several studies conducted by Ericsson ConsumerLab in 2015, covering a range of 46 million urban smartphone users in 10 major cities worldwide to its broadest reach of a representative of 1.1 billion people across 24 countries.
But just before we delve into the 10 Hot Trends for 2016, let’s take a moment and look at the three important shifts that this report highlighted so we can have a better understanding on how these trends should be interpreted.
First, all these consumer trends involve the Internet. This shift is plain to see as many aspects of our physical lives are now intertwined with our cyber lives. This is due to the rapid expansion of Wi-Fi and broadband over cable. In other words our activities are not restricted by our surroundings anymore.
Next, early adopters are less important. Four years ago it was said that women drove the smartphone market by defining mass-market use, today with the increased speed of technology adoption, mass-market use becomes the norm much faster. As such, many successful products and services reach the mass-market in a shorter time today with the aid of the Internet.
And thirdly, a reverse in consumer influence. It was only a few years ago that the focus was on how the Internet is influencing consumers, today, consumers are using the Internet to influence what goes on around them through reviews, petitions and instant crowd activities.
With that background, let’s take a look at Ericsson ConsumerLab’s Hot Trends for 2016.
The Lifestyle Network Effect
With the growth in Internet usage, users are becoming increasingly interconnected with one another. According to one Ericsson’s survey done in 24 countries, 4 out of 5 people experience a lifestyle network effect, whereby a person benefits as the range of online services increases due to the heavy use by others. So in effect, the faster everyone else starts using the latest service, the better the service becomes for those who already use it.
The lifestyle network effects are vividly reflected in the attitudes and behaviours of online users from being on social networks to participating in the sharing economy, from Internet sharing to user reviews. Today 30 per cent of those using the Internet consider user reviews to be better than expert reviews and this effect increases as more write reviews and share their views.
One of the more significant changes in the Internet age is the growth of video content. In 2011, about 30 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube every minute, today, it is estimated to be more than 300 hours every minute. This drastic increase in the availability of video content online results in a greater volume of consumption. This is reflected in the statistic that 20 per cent of the second generation Internet users (16-19 year olds) watch more than 3 hours of YouTube videos daily as compared to 7 per cent in 2011. The first generation (30-34 year olds) does not fully follow this pattern with only 9 per cent watching about 3 hours of videos per day.
Clearly teens are the leading streaming natives with about 46 per cent of them spending an hour or more on YouTube daily while 16 per cent also stream music for more than 3 hours every day.
AI ends the Screen Age
With the advent of the screen age in the 1950s television became the mainstream popular culture. Screens continued to multiply with the arrival of PCs and more recently with smartphones and tablets; with the later surpassing PC sales in 2011. After 6 decades in the screen age, half of smartphones users believe that smartphones will be a thing of the past in 5 years with 4 out of 5 citing battery capacity as their main worry.
This forecast highlights a need for better solutions such as the use of intelligent assistants to reduce the need to always touch a screen. This is cemented by the fact that 85 per cent of smartphone users think wearable technologies will be common in 5 years’ time, while 50 per cent believe they will be able to talk to their household appliances. This type of interacting with objects and surroundings would only be possible with an AI interface.
Virtual gets real
Virtual reality is gaining in popularity among smartphone users with many envisioning VR maps and movies that play around the viewer, virtual tech support, VR headsets for sports and even VR dating services.
Half of smartphone users are also interested in virtual shopping by using a 3D selfie to try on clothes online. Others are looking for 3D printers to print household objects such as spoons, toys and spare parts for appliances. Devices will also have to evolve with the growing demands as half of consumers think holographic screens will be mainstream within 5 years.
Believe it or not, bricks may be the new building blocks of the Internet. With the increase presence of the Internet of Things, sensors could be integrated into the building materials of your house, literally connecting your home from the ground up.
Over half of smartphone users believe that within the next 5 years homes with sensors will be able to detect construction errors, molds, water leaks and electricity problems while 66 per cent think homes connected to the Internet will be able to regulate air quality and ventilation.
On a weekly basis, commuters worldwide spend 20 per cent more time in commuting than on leisure activities. Many perceive their commuting time as unproductive, dull and even frustrating. In order to be productive, to socialise and even enjoy their commute many are demanding connectivity while commuting. Unfortunately, over 50 per cent are still not satisfied that their demands are not met.
Commuters also want real-time crowd information to aid in managing their commute with payment options and services. If all of this could be personalised to individual needs, then 88 per cent say they would use this service.
With text being the top means of mobile communications, many are using texting as well as social networks to share photos, videos and other information. What is interesting is that people are increasingly using social media in natural disasters rather than calling 911. Due to this, 65 per cent of smartphone users are interested in an emergency app that would provide alerts in times of crisis or disasters with rumor-free information.
Additionally, 50 per cent of respondents believe that social networks will be used to contact emergency centers in 3 years time rather routing calls through 911. Many also foresee that sharing pictures and their location would be the norm during a disaster on social networks. The challenge here is what happens if a user’s data runs out? Of those interviewed, 62 per cent recognised this issue and would like to have an emergency chat app free of data charges.
As wearables continue to grow, many are under the common perception that they are unattractive and sometimes impractical, even getting in the way of performing daily tasks. With this negative outlook the next generation of body-monitoring technology may not be worn, but may instead be found within the body.
These “internables” are internal sensors that will give updates on health and wellbeing and half of smartphones users believe that this will become a reality in three years.
Everything gets hacked
With the Internet being the hub of over 3.2 billion users, the majority of smartphone users today believe that it is easier for organisations, products and services to be hacked or infected by a virus in the near future. Over half indicated that hacks and virus attacks will become commonplace within three years.
As the attacks intensify many consumers see new security measures to appear. For instance, 43 per cent think we will be required to identify ourselves whenever we use the Internet within the next three years.
By sharing our thoughts, suggestions, ideas and observations online we are increasingly acting like journalists. Smartphone users have been involved in such activity before but the level is rising as more users participate online as netizens. To attest to this fact, two thirds of users say they share more information online now than ever before.
Today, a bad experience with a company or exposing corrupt and illicit behaviour are commonly shared as people believe they can make a big impact on society and have their contributions heard.
As we conclude the outlook for 2016 and beyond it’s clear that some trends in this report are more futuristic than others, but as the report pointed out, “…[because] mass markets are appearing quicker than ever…it is necessary to ask consumers about new technologies in order to conceptualize the future.”
The question I would like to leave you with is, are you ready for this future?
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