Verizon Releases its Consumer Technology Trends for 2012

Verizon issued its Top 9 Consumer Technology Trends for 2012.  For your convenience, I have pasted them below with a few additional comments:

#1: Life Without Borders – Technology is allowing the lines between the different aspects of consumers’ lives to merge, giving them a virtual identity and allowing them access to the different parts of their lives on their terms.  Videos and games are no longer found only in the living room, and productivity is no longer bound by the cubicle.

Broadbandtrends Comment: Nothing new here.

#2: We’re All Creative Geniuses – Companies used to offer content, services and products and consumers would either buy in or not.  Now, consumers are an integral part of the creative process, and this co-creation model is quickly becoming the new norm.  That means more piano-playing cat videos, but it will also mean more meaningful user experiences.

Broadbandtrends Comment: Yippee!  We get to look forward to everyone feeling the need to “share” everything, all of the time.  However, the advent of the “app store” has allowed some savvy consumers to develop some really cool applications and I definitely expect this to proliferate.  The next step will be to find a better way to search for the apps that are meaningful to each individual.  Judging by the iTunes App Store – they haven’t figured this out yet.

#3: Democratization of Service – Consumers will be much more involved in evaluating products and services, through the increased use of ratings, reviews, forums and social media commentary are picking up steam in terms of frequency and relevance.

Broadbandtrends Comment:  I am a big fan of ratings.  I think every commerce site should enable consumers to comment and/or rate all products and services. This is an invaluable services, when you are unfamiliar with an item and I believe that it helps businesses optimize their content to better match consumer needs.  Forums have their plus and minuses, as everyone seems to be an expert on a subject and most certainly everyone has a opinion that they like to share.  But if you can weed through the crap – there can be a goldmine of information.  It was through a forum that I found out about Sony TVs’ exchange program for the XBR series that had a known optical block issue!

#4: Future of Work – The technology most people use at home and elsewhere in their personal lives is a lot more advanced than the technology in their offices.  Increasingly, consumers will bring to the office the technology – smartphones, notebooks, etc. – that is simplifying their personal lives.  As a result, consumers will increase their productivity and efficiency at work.  And that means IT departments will continue to become more nimble.

Broadbandtrends Comment: I guess this all depends on your workplace and who is paying for your services. The challenge for most companies is the fact that not everyone is using the latest and greatest computer  – especially in companies with hundreds, if not thousands of employees.  Therefore, software programs and services typically have to work with the least common denominator –  in this case, the computer with the slowest processor.  This results in a slower adoption of newer programs, but I am not sure that is necessarily correlates to lower productivity.  In fact,  I am not exactly sure how bringing my own iPad or iPhone to the office would increase my work productivity – if anything I am likely to be more distracted by these devices than productive.  Just sayin’

#5: More Shelf Space – It’s why you’ll have more shelf space that’s important. Physical belongings, from CDs to books to pictures, are evaporating into the cloud, and even hard drives are slimming down.  For the most part, consumers could care less about jargon or the title of “the cloud.”  They just want out-of-the-box experiences for ones that used to be more complex – and since that’s happening at a faster pace, we’ll continue to see less clutter and more virtual shelves. 

Broadbandtrends Comment:  Call me old-fashioned, but I like the physical nature of a book and a CD.  Although I am a happy iTunes customer for many years, I still regularly burn my music to CDs and maintain a rather large album collection, plus I continue to backup my files to a separate hard drive.  While I like the concept of storing content in the cloud, I also like having access to my content – without the need to have Internet Access – particularly when I am in Europe and it cost $30 a day.

#6: Value of High-IQ Networks – The average American home will go from having about four connected devices to double that by 2014.  Many of the Verizon employees who were polled in an informal survey far exceeded that number. With each new smart device or app, the value of the network that connects and enables them increases exponentially.  The quality of the network will become increasingly relevant and “cool,” which in return results in better user experiences for those who choose wisely.

Broadbandtrends Comment:  It will become increasingly more important for operators to offer quality of service on its broadband networks,  even at an additionaly fee, in order for consumers to continue to have a good user experience.  The proliferation of video viewing devices, whether internet enabled Blu-Ray players, connected TV, game consoles, iPads, etc. will have a major impact on the quality of services asd individuals in the household contend for precious bandwidth. Maybe Frontier has the right idea by marketing a second broadband line to consumers, because unless we all have Fiber-to-the-Home, our home networks are going to become severly stressed.

#7: What’s That You’re Watching? – The old model of home entertainment is dead.  Video is appearing everywhere – from movies on tablets to video conferences (both gabbing teens and on-the-go executives).  New infrastructure, apps and partnerships will be formed to meet the growing demand.

Broadbandtrends Comment:  No doubt consumers are interested in watching their entertainment anywhere and on any device, but more importantly, offering new ways for users to consume their content will play a key role in retention.  We fully expect pay-tv operators to integrate over-the-top content into their services to give consumers the best of both.  Some are already starting to do this, but expect to see this really take off in 2013.

#8: Digital Door Locks – No need to call a locksmith.  We’re talking about securing consumers’ virtual valuables (identity and personal information).  Today’s anything, anywhere access underscores what Internet security experts have been saying for years: Security has to be everyone’s responsibility. Even the basics aren’t cared for in some instances; in fact many people still don’t have a password on their home routers and don’t encrypt important communications.  A proliferation of tools and services will help make consumers more security conscious.

Broadbandtrends Comment:  An absolutely must, especially as consumers move their content to the cloud.  But the challenge will be for businesses to encourage consumers to use these tools and making them simple such as prompting the consumer to update/change their password on a regular basis or require multiple levels of authentication.  I would say less than 5% of the services I use do this or require this type of security.

#9: Easy Green – Who doesn’t want to help save the environment and save money in the process?  Smart energy management is going mainstream, and consumers will increasingly rely on a variety of plug-and-play devices – from smart thermostats to lights that know you’re walking into the room and light up – to monitor and control energy usage.  This will lead to lower energy costs.  A recent government study found people curbed their energy use once they had the means to monitor and adjust their usage.

Broadbandtrends Comment:  Consumers will only conserve energy when there is some type of incentive from their utility for doing so and utilities will only engage in these programs when there is some financial or regulatory benefit.  Similar to broadband usage – consumers have very little clue how they consume power.  While I like the idea of smart thermostats and smart outlets – until the price of these devices comess down significantly – the cost to upgrade will likely outweigh the savings in the near term.  In addition, it is critical that the utility play an active role in any home energy management programs – otherwise the information is just that – information.  The challenge is #1: keeping consumers engaged continuously and #2 reaping some type of economic benefits for their participation. 

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