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Friday
Mar092018

Podcast #834: The Devices We Can’t Live Without

Research firm iQor recently commissioned an online survey called the Customer and Product Experience (CPX) 360 Survey (part 2). It was conducted online and polled 1,004 U.S. adults 18 and up living in a “smart household” environment from Nov. 9 to Nov. 17, 2017. The goal was to gauge customer experience and customer service expectations of buyers of consumer technology in today’s digital age. All respondents indicated they own or regularly use: a smartphone, a computer (desktop, laptop or tablet), and two or more “smart” devices.

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The Devices We Can’t Live Without

Research firm iQor recently commissioned an online survey called the Customer and Product Experience (CPX) 360 Survey (part 2). It was conducted online and polled 1,004 U.S. adults 18 and up living in a “smart household” environment from Nov. 9 to Nov. 17, 2017. The goal was to gauge customer experience and customer service expectations of buyers of consumer technology in today’s digital age. All respondents indicated they own or regularly use: a smartphone, a computer (desktop, laptop or tablet), and two or more “smart” devices.

Their findings were interesting, but they inspired us to conduct a less formal survey to gauge customer experience with and “addiction” to consumer technology devices in today’s digital age. The survey was conducted via email and shared Google docs and polled two U.S. adults, both over the age of 18. All respondents indicated they own or regularly use: a smartphone, a computer (desktop, laptop or tablet), and two or more “smart” devices. All respondents also indicated they record a weekly podcast about home theater and consumer electronics.

The iQor study found that consumer dependency on WiFi routers has surpassed the smartphone as the #1 technology US adults cannot live without for more than one day. They state that “as the life-blood for the connected ecosystem, a functioning WiFi router is necessary for consumers to enjoy smart devices and the connected lifestyle, including smart TVs and streaming devices, multiplayer gaming, tablets, voice controlled virtual assistants and smart speakers, telehealth devices and IoT-enabled security systems. Currently, nearly two-thirds of US adults (64 percent) couldn’t be without WiFi for more than one day.” And it isn’t going to go away. The proliferation of smart devices is forecast to reach 20.4 billion globally by 2020, almost doubling from an estimated 11.1 billion in 2018.


WiFi Router

We have to say we agree with the iQor results on how critical working WiFi is in our own homes. It seems like almost everything these days needs an internet connection. Without it, lights stop working, sprinklers stop working, doors won’t unlock, you can’t watch TV or stream movies, can’t stream music or blast it in a different room. Heck, you can’t even see who’s at your front door. Things go sideways fast, and if you’ve got kids, you probably don’t even want to be home if WiFi is down.

Of course there will be those who say they don’t really need their WiFi routers. After all, like a generator or battery backup in a power outage, you can always run your critical devices through a portable access point from your cellular provider, or even use the WiFi hotspot capability on your phone. But if you do that, you’re really just using a different WiFi router. Maybe not your main one, but it is a WiFi router at that point. No, we’re talking about stepping back about 20 years and going without WiFi at all.

Braden: 1 day

Ara: 1 day

 

Smartphone

It’s hard to fathom how quickly the smartphone has become such an integral part of our daily lives. It is your constant companion, your source of unlimited information, and an incredibly easy way to get in touch with others, whenever you might need to. It has become as critical in our lives as indoor plumbing or refridgeration. And we didn’t even have them 20 years ago; but society would melt down if they disappeared. The beauty of a cell phone is that it can (typically) still connect to the Internet even if your home WiFi goes down.

If you plan for it, you could probably go without your cell phone for a few days. Maybe turn it off for a long weekend to just unplug and recharge. (Notice that even our euphemisms for life without a cell phone involve cell phone like jargon). You’d need to make sure everyone knew you’d be out of touch so they didn’t freak out. And you’d need to take everyone important to you with you on the quick getaway in case you need to reach them. But otherwise, it would be doable.

Braden: 3 days

Ara: 1 Hour

 

HDTV

Television is a key component of family time in many households, in the US and around the world. We gather the family around that glowing box to go on an adventure together, laugh together, learn, bond and just relax. Without TV, we’d be forced to talk, or go outside and throw a football around or take a walk, maybe find a new hobby or play a board game. That could be cool, but let’s be honest, not for an extended amount of time. We’ve all probably had super busy weeks in our lives. Those weeks where work, family and other life circumstances all seem to crash in at once and there’s just no time for TV. It’s doable. You just have to have something to distract you.

Braden: 1 work week

Ara: 1 hour during Primetime

 

DVR

This is a unique one. In years past, we’ve included the DVR on our list of things we’re the most thankful for. The DVR was, in its heyday, one of the most critical pieces of home electronics we owned. Tivo and ReplayTV changed the way we do television. The move from the VCR to the DVR for recording shows made it so much easier to record anything and everything. It gave you the freedom to watch what you wanted to watch when you wanted to - instead of having to race home from whatever you were doing to catch the next episode of your favorite show, or that highly anticipated interview or event. And fast forward through commercials.

But in today’s modern streaming era of television, the DVR really isn’t all that critical anymore. Between Hulu and Netflix, and the ability to get episodes from On Demand, iTunes, Amazon, etc. there’s just not that much you need to record anymore. It’s down to live or one time events that you probably won’t be able to find via streaming after the event. Yes there are still some more obscure shows or more obscure channels that are difficult to find via streaming, but that is getting smaller and smaller by the day. If we could just get the content producers and distributors to make these shows and events available via streaming, the DVR might become the Dodo of Home Theater.

Braden: Until the next superbowl?

Ara: Just Kill me now

 

Smart Lighting Control

This is a tough one to quantify. Can we live without it? Of course. Do we want to go back to the days before smart lighting control? Heck no! Do we want to have to manually turn on the outside lights every night, or come home to a dark house when we get home late, or have to mess with and constantly adjust timers throughout the year as sunset and sunrise times change. That’s a hard no on all of those.

Everyone listening (or reading) right now who hasn’t installed smart lighting control (which could be as simple as a smart plug for your landscape lights) thinks we’re crazy. You’re shaking your head muttering something about first world problems. But we’d encourage you to go out and buy that smart plug for your landscaping lights, or a smart switch for your porch light. Just try it. They aren’t too expensive and they’re really easy to install and program. Once you have it, it’s difficult to imagine going back.

Braden: Until my next vacation?

Ara: Until Sunset

 

Computer/Laptop/Tablet

Let’s ignore the work aspect for this discussion. If you have a job, like we do, that requires you work on a computer all day, every day, you wouldn’t be able to go a day without it. As much as they try to tell you that you can do everything on your phone or on a tablet, you really can’t. You can try, but it will take a lot longer, will be a lot less comfortable, and will typically just frustrate you to no end. Instead of focusing on the work aspect, we decided to look at it from the home aspect - doing all your day to day home activities like paying the bills, checking your finances, ordering groceries, those kinds of tasks.

For tasks that are going to involve focusing on something for longer than 5-10 minutes, where you need to accomplish something, not just watch a youtube video or read a news article, Braden prefers to work on a computer. Most of those tasks can be accomplished on a phone, it’s just so much more cumbersome. And while most can be done on the phone, some actually cannot be. It would be incredibly frustrating to try to do all of them on the phone. More than a few days of that would drive me absolutely bonkers.

Braden: 3 days

Ara: I don’t understand the question.

 

Other notes from the CPX 360 survey

There are still challenges. According to the survey, more than one in three US adults experience issues setting up or operating a connected device and many are losing faith in the “connected utopia” as they struggle with disjointed technical support involving multiple people at multiple companies...

 “Tech-savvy early adopter consumers are frustrated, and many are abandoning efforts to link their devices together, potentially losing out on the full value of the connected ecosystem. According to the CPX 360 survey, consumers report having to take more than eight steps to resolve a technical problem or issue with a smart device. Further, consumers are spending, on average, close to 1.5 hours of their own time resolving these issues and one hour working with customer service. Nearly one in four consumers (22 percent) couldn’t resolve the issue or simply gave up, and returned the product for a refund.”

“As the smart home grows in popularity, IoT security concerns remain top of mind for consumers. The CPX 360 survey reports that more than two-thirds (70 percent) of consumers are concerned about the lack of security from hackers who might hack into smart devices in the home; these apprehensions escalate among older generations, as nearly four out of five baby boomers (79 percent) are fearful of hackers breaching a smart connected device in their home. Data and privacy fears rank second among consumer smart home concerns. More than half of US adults (58 percent) fear lack of privacy from device manufacturers who have access to data, real-time conversations, voice patterns and search history. These security concerns are a potential barrier for mass consumer connected home adoption.”


 

Download Episode #834

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