CES Day 2: Accenture Survey Says Wearables Are Too Hard to Set Up and Use

Accenture_Logo5Every year, the management consultancy Accenture surveyed about 24,000 people around the world about the state of consumer electronics. We sat down today (a blessing in itself at CES) with John Curran, a managing director with Accenture’s  Communications, Media and Technology Group, to go over some of the survey’s more provocative findings about intelligent devices.

Curran notes that the survey is done online, and therefore skews to the technologically adept. But even among them, the survey showed that 21 percent or respondents found that their device was too complicated to use, and that 19 percent complained that setup did not proceed as expected, did not work as advertised, or could not connect to the internet.

Mark that: one out of five technically savvy users are having awful out-of-box experiences with intelligent devices. Curran noted with particular concern that it is precisely these customers that the less-adept will ask for advice about what/whether to buy. If products are too complex for them, how could they expect to recommend them to a more general public?

There is, Curran said, a huge opportunity for companies that get it right. Ease of use was the most important factor for buying an intelligent device, at 33 percent. Features/function was named by 29 percent, and brand was named by 28 percent. Design? Not so important: 18 percent. And, in good news for disruptors, compatibility with existing devices was named by just 16 percent as most important.

Lessons so far: the field is open for new brands making easy-to-use functional devices with great out-of-box experiences.

Even better news: of the 13 most popular consumer electronic categories — smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming consoles, and the like — the only device that more people intended to buy this year than last were gaming consoles.

But intelligent devices — wearable fitness monitors, smartwatches, 3D printers, and so on — all showed intent-to-buy figures for 2015 at about 10 percent. Intent in the 1-to-3-year time frame was between 14 and 17 percent across all categories, and between 11 and 14 percent in the 3-to-5 year horizon. The only trailing category was personal drones, with figures of 6, 12, and 10 percent.

The lessons, warnings, and opportunities are pretty clear. Lots of people are interested in wearables and are willing (if not eager) to consider them. But they’re too hard to get running — and that single problem could work to hold back the entire sector.

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