back to article We're all really excited about new smartphones, laptops, tablets – said no one ever

We are all perfectly happy with our existing high-end technologies and aren't planning to upgrade any time soon. That's according to Accenture, which carried out a survey of 28,000 people across 28 countries, and found "sluggish demand" for the most popular consumer electronics. Not that we've stopped buying them: "just" 48 …

  1. Planty Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    I'm really excited

    To see how much harder Microsoft can fail at all those things. Microsoft has been a fascinating trsincrash for years with no sign of it slowing down, let alone reversal.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: I'm really excited

      I thought about buying a drone. Then I thought: "They're probably best left in Canberra where they seem to belong..."

      1. joed

        Re: I'm really excited

        It's all fun and games until you had to register one with feds. We just can't have nice toys;)

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The slowdown in the consumer technology market is irrefutable, serious and global,"

    It's only serious if you think producing more landfill is a good idea. For people who just want to do stuff "good enough" is what we were after all along.

    1. boltar Silver badge

      "For people who just want to do stuff "good enough" is what we were after all along."

      Unfortunately consumerism isn't really aimed at people who just need tools to get a job done, its aimed at mindless sheep who always want the latest New Shiny. And there are a motherload of those sorts of people in this planet who neither know (nor would probably give a rats arse if they did) the amount of enviromental damage done by endlessly buying new shit they don't need whether it be tech or the latest "designer" rags from Primark and throwing out the old.

      1. Boothy

        Quote "The slowdown in the consumer technology market is irrefutable, serious and global,"

        ...and easily predictable, especially this last year.

        There hasn't really been anything new to buy that has a real wide appeal, it's mostly just been minor improvements to things people already have, like Tablets, TVs, Mobile phones, Laptops etc. etc. People will already have those, and the new improvements are just not worth shelling out again for most people, especially if your current <device> still works fine.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to love technology

    Before it turned into a big ball of suck.

    1. ciaran

      Re: I used to love technology

      Car technology really sucks and its getting worse. So many options, the integration is awful. I have a Renault, I can't turn off the radio without turning off the GPS, and the "mute" function on the radio also mutes the GPS. On another car I've played with you just can't turn off the radio/media player at all, and there's no mute button.

      I really want my self-driving car, but I know its going to suck too.

      1. andykb3

        Re: I used to love technology

        OK, so Renault car technology sucks (a friend of mine who also has a Renault would whole-heartedly agree). I drive a VW-group car and really like the UI and the connectivity it offers (although it does have it's idiosyncrasies). Certainly none of the issues you raise you apply to it.

        And no, I don't have a diesel-gate car.

  4. Montreal Sean

    Still no reason to upgrade my kit.

    Bought my Mac Mini in 2012, maxed out the RAM and swapped in an ssd.

    Was given a Lenovo T420 by my employer.

    I have a BB Z10 and an original Moto G LTE.

    I haven't seen any convincing reason to replace any of it.

    1. joed

      Re: Still no reason to upgrade my kit.

      Good for you, now you can't even add RAM. Progress.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Progress: minimum RAM is plenty

        My old 1GB laptop had more than enough memory, but got retired when I could no longer get replacements for all the worn out parts. The new one has minimum RAM: 2GB. Two thirds of it simply buffers some of the contents of a ridiculously fast SSD. I have to replace the desktop today. A Pi 2 only has 1GB, so I might end up using over half the RAM quite often.

        The first RAM upgrade I did involved pushing 16x 16Kbit chips into all the empty sockets. I think there has been plenty of progress.

  5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Did they fail marketing?

    All markets mature and when they are mature most sales are for replacement kit. This is basic marketing 101; at some point all markets become mature markets. You can still make money in one but it is harder to do and often requires consumer brand loyalty to maintain marketshare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did they fail marketing?

      Capitalism 101: Infinite growth at all cost.

      I'm so glad this is failing. Last year was wall-to-wall IoT astroturfing though all media channels, including the great and impartial BBC.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Did they fail marketing?

        Worry not, this year will be the same exact thing only hyped even louder. Actual sales? Well, that's a different question...

      2. agatum

        Re: Did they fail marketing?

        > Capitalism 101: Infinite growth at all cost.

        Seems to me the only two things growing infinitely are greed and stupidity. Not markets.

        1. Zarko

          Re: Did they fail marketing?

          Reminds me on a quote by Einstein:

          “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”

  6. Paul S. Gazo
    Holmes

    When good enough is good enough, enough.

    When microwave ovens first became affordable, they sold very well as households jumped at the new technology. Then the market was saturated and the rush died. Permanently.

    That's where we are at with many technologies. Existing laptop is good enough. Existing TV is good enough. Existing cell phone is good enough. Adding four side-facing cameras, fingerprint readers for all four fingers simultaneous, and making it one micron thick while reducing battery life by 50% doesn't entice us to buy a new one.

    The point with the IoT "revolution" is that it's almost all incremental improvement. Nest and the like aren't fresh enough, conceptually, to cause an iPad-rush of purchasing.

    Market personal anti-insect nanoclouds or clothing that safely administers stimulants/medication/intoxicants by suffusion through the skin and you'll get mega-rich.

    Sherlock because I figured this all out in my mind-palace while on a 7% solution of cocaine, tripping out in the 1800s.

    1. joed

      Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

      I'd not mind an upgrade every so often but then I consider expense and I'm good for a while. Not to mention new features nobody asked for and invasion of privacy most "upgrades" come with.

      1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

        @joed

        Yep, the survey pretty well nailed it - expense and privacy and not interesting enough.

        Windows 10 is a prime example. Had it been a solid upgrade to 7 (and 8) I would have put it on my machines. But the data slupring aspects have turned me into an MS anti-marketer (telling friends and colleagues not to touch it with a bargepole).

        Otherwise I would have paid, say, £50 a copy and rolled it out.

        1. agatum

          Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

          > turned me into an MS anti-marketer (telling friends and colleagues not to touch it with a bargepole)

          Same here. Reporting for duty, sir.

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

          "But the data slupring aspects have turned me into an MS anti-marketer"

          Windows 8 and Windows 10 have, for the first time ever, had me thinking very seriously about putting Mint on my big laptop and simply having a small, cheap box attached to a large storage box to hold my phone backups etc. that require Windows. So Microsoft's changes may result in an additional PC sale this year.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

            Stop thinking about installing Linux, and install Linux.

    2. tony2heads

      Re: When good enough is good enough, enough.

      How about anti-personnel clouds that hovers 3 feet away from you when switched on; I would buy that!

      Intoxicants can most easily be absorbed by breathing; I had a grandfather who worked in a distillery - he said that he didn't need to buy stuff to get drunk, but just go working above the still was enough.

  7. Ketlan
    Devil

    Small poll but interesting

    I just carried out a quick poll of everyone in my immediate vicinity (22 people). All those on Android devices (12) have no intention of 'upgrading' in the foreseeable future, except one guy who said he could do with a better camera on his mobile eventually. Everyone using an iPhone (10), without exception, intends to upgrade at the earliest opportunity. I've no great love for Apple but they certainly have their marketing well-targeted and pretty well sorted for future sales.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Small poll but interesting

      Same here, old dual-core low-res Android, no intention to ever upgrade unless it literally turns to dust or something. Although it would be exceedingly simple to get me to buy a new one - just make a new Android with a traditional, full-sized large slide-out QWERTY (and a battery of no less than 5000mAh while we're at it)...

      1. hoola

        Re: Small poll but interesting

        I agree, the same question here had remarkably similar results. The Apple users invariably have the latest iGadget, upgrading whenever the contract permits (or before in some cases). The Windows phone users put up with it because they are supplied by the business. The Android users are mostly Nexus, Samsung with a smattering of Moto and HTC. The age of the devices is up to 3 or 4 years and they are happy, compare that to the iGadgets and everything is less than 2 years old.

        I have an HTC One M7, it still provides up to 2 days moderate use on a single charge, and will happily run for a full day with heavy use. The Moto Gs are the same, the principal comment is that the battery life is awesome. The Nexus users all tend to be geeks and have Rooted, recompiled, flashed and generally done loads of funky stuff with them. That is why they bought a Nexus and it keeps them happy.

    2. Da Weezil

      Re: Small poll but interesting

      I clearly dont fit into your demographic of an average Apple user. my 2013 i-Mac is fine for the foreseeable.... I will revisit this when I hit the upgrade wall which has just happened on my partners Macbook pro which is about 8 years old now, my iPhone 6+ is fine, I will look at the next release to see if there is anything compelling introduced, and then decide if I really need it... chances are I wont.

      I drive an old Estate car, it isnt cool, it has an old and trusted Nokia CARK kit for bluetooth rather than something built in @ assembly, it does all I need, I dont get precious about throwing stuff in it and the depreciation is negligible..

      I get so weary of people making assumptions about me based on the kit I own or the clothes I wear... or the car I drive, I replace gear as it suits me. Central heating can a timer and the rooms can have thermostatic valves, set correctly then there is no need to open an attack vector to your home through "cool" IOT connectivity - which in truth only offers another level of potential failure to a system.

      As a wise man once told me... "Just because you can... It doesnt always mean that you should!" and thats how I view a lot of the tech garbage that companies produce.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Small poll but interesting

        I clearly dont fit into your demographic of an average Apple user

        You clearly do.

        my 2013 i-Mac is fine for the foreseeable.... I will revisit this when I hit the upgrade wall which has just happened on my partners Macbook pro which is about 8 years old now, my iPhone 6+ is fine, I will look at the next release to see if there is anything compelling introduced, and then decide if I really need it... chances are I wont.

        Stop kidding yourself. You obviously have enough cash to stay on the Apple bandwagon and Apple's marketing will do its damnedest this autumn to convince you that the IPhone is compelling.

        FWIW I have a second-hand MacBook Pro from 2010 and a 2006 MacMini, which has been artificially cut off from updates because Apple can't be arsed to recompile the video drivers for 64-bit.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Small poll but interesting

      "Everyone using an iPhone (10), without exception, intends to upgrade at the earliest opportunity."

      In almost any other industry, if 12 people had product A and did not intend to replace it, and 10 had product B and said they did, one would assume that product B was inferior to product A and so was creating customer dissatisfaction.

      That's what marketing can do for you. That, and I suspect that the use case for iPhones is sufficiently different from Android phones that the overlap is small. It would be interesting to see some research on and analysis of this.

      1. no-one in particular

        Re: Small poll but interesting

        > I suspect that the use case for iPhones is sufficiently different from Android phones that the overlap is small

        Huh?

    4. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Small poll but interesting

      "Everyone using an iPhone (10), without exception, intends to upgrade"

      They buy things because they are made by apple what the things actually do is of secondary importance.

      Apple could bring out an iButtplug bluetooth rectal thermometer at $200 and still sell millions of them.

  8. P. Lee Silver badge

    Here's a question

    If you had an idea for a killer must-have new mobile device, do you think you would be able to turn that idea into a reality and become a global success?

    Or do you think that IP laws, supplier-deals and predatory pricing would be used to squash your fledgling company like a bug?

    Where in the world do we have the most vibrant market with the most diverse mobile products available?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not impressive enough

    Sorry manufacturers, but the stuff you are peddling is not impressive enough compared to what we have and what you gave us before...

    The step from a big box tv to a flat screen was enough to keep us buying TVs in the HD phase.... but now with 4k, i'm not even sure my eyes are 4k let alone ANY CONTENT ANY TIME SOON.

    Tablets, smart phones ... both still have first time purchasers buying them, but only just after so long.

    What are you offering me know ? A $100 light switch? (yeah, not sold on that one).... finger print scanner on my phone?? - really not sure i need that one. ..... dunno what else really... stopped listening.

    What are you NOT offering..... Batteries suitable for today's tech...... Holographic projection..... Security....

    Meh.

  10. Erik4872

    Maybe the focus will be on improvements now!

    The market for consumer technology maturing is actually a good thing. It's kind of like the PC market...my home desktop machine is a 7 year old maxed out workstation and I'm only now starting to think about replacing it. It was expensive when I bought it, but now I want the new virtualization extensions available in the latest Xeon family. I'm sure there are plenty of non power users running even older stuff. PC manufacturers hate this and point to the death of the industry. The reality is that end user technology is finally way more than everyone needs. Even Windows 10 runs much better on older kit that struggled to support Windows 7, probably due to the fact that Microsoft focused on slimming down the OS to make it run on phones and tablets.

    It goes in cycles -- after the dotcom crash there was a retrenching of just about everything, and the focus was on "Web 2.0" and cloudy stuff. This laid the groundwork for the smartphone's introduction and the current social media/mobile/IoT bubble. Once that pops, and everyone really does stop buying every shiny new toy, companies will be forced to make tangible improvements to products in order to sell replacements. Just think, if someone like me who loves technology is running a 7 year old desktop, what consumer is going to care about incremental improvements to the tablet they use to read email or watch Netflix on?

  11. Baudwalk

    I wonder what overlap...

    ... there was between those who wanted VR headsets and those keen on drones.

    That combination might be a fun (and expensive) toy.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what overlap...

      One word: TeleDildonics.

      *Wanders away whistling innocently*

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Panic Panic panic

    Meanwhile, us legacy folk are just happy to pull back from this nonsense future of gadgets which are little more than toys.

    Why strain to put intelligence into things that don't need it? Far better to put it into those that do - such as politicians, news reporters, whoever is behind the El Reg revamp plans, etc.

  13. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Windows

    For some reason

    I looked at the picture and read "13% plan to purchase a sandwich".

    Can we have a Bleary Eye'd icon please.

  14. Roj Blake Silver badge

    Jet Packs

    Affordable (but safe) jet packs are the only new technology I'm interested in buying.

    Come on tech companies, sort it out!

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Jet Packs

      Wish granted! ...well, for a certain amount of "affordable". It's certainly as safe as it gets though...

  15. Otto is a bear.

    A triumph of enthusiasm over sense.

    I've been wondering for some time in my posts just what does a new version of this of that give us, that we really need. In terms of straight functionality, it's been many years since there have been any really significant software innovations for a normal computer user. I pretty sure there's been nothing new in end user functionality since Windows/Office 95, that we really need, not so for serious professional products. With TVs, well, digital and Flat screen, but does 3D really add that much, especially as you have to ware special glasses. With Apple, my iPhone's (6s) still a bit behind the curve, but I can't think of anything I really need to add to it.

    Can anyone actually suggest a truly innovative new game? Yes our interfaces are improving, but actual gaming scenarios, not really.

    Sure there are things we could add to many consumer products, but most now are replace it when it breaks.

    Perhaps we need our innovators to concentrate on making what we have safer, more efficient and cheaper for a while.

    I think players like Microsoft have got this, if you can't innovate and sell new product, then convert it into a rental stream through the cloud. You then don't need to market anything, or for that matter invest much in research because who will really notice that a service hasn't changed in 20 years if it does what it needs to.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IoT not a goldmine

    Any _useful_ IoT <gag> products will be high-volume, and by definition these things are limited-functionality due to UI & bandwidth limitations.

    Thus a cheap microcontroller will do the job for just about any IoT application; the rest can be handled by "expensive" microcontrollers like the SMT32F series.

    That means manufacturers can throw engineering resources at squeezing the functionality into the cheapest possible chip. The dream of selling millions of "computers" to replace lost sales in the PC business is a non-starter.

    The consumer telematics* devices that succeed will be competing on price and reliability; but due to the hassle factor of changing out a network of devices there won't be anything like the fashion-driven repeat business of the PC world.

    * sorry, can't stand typing that overhyped TLA any more

  17. Chris G Silver badge

    Reality

    IoT just doesn't offer enough improvement/excitement/savings/etc in our lives to be interesting enough for everyone to want it.

    Marketing droids are the only ones who see huge promise in it because they have to sell something and this is what they have got.

    Who gives a crap if their fridge can reorder a week's worth of milk or veg? Especially if the thing is going to cost 30% more because it has a couple of sensors and a chip in it.

    What people want are things that work reliably at doing what they are supposed to, without constant attention, mostly we have got those things at the moment so until the next big thing the manufacturers need to consolidate on what they have got.

    I am into photography, now good DSLRs are offering fantastic quality and reliability I have paid enough for the camera bodies, now I look for legacy lenses to get the added interest and flexibility I want. I won't be looking for a new camera for years and the same goes for my laptop, PC, tablet et al.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IoT does not excite me one bit

    ...But it offers a massive landgrab opportunity for

    a) high-tech companies who have run out of steam as customers realise they don't need a better phone/laptop/tablet/TV

    b) low-tech companies who see an "amazing" opportunity to sell "sexy" versions of dull good like fridges, toilets and thermostats, that spaff out your Google password because they shipped it with a dodgy HTTPS implementation and didn't realise they actually have to maintain and all the products they ship.

  19. jason 7

    I've side stepped.

    It was 6 years since I last bought a laptop and it was decided this Xmas to get a new one (the old Dell was and still is fine after many upgrades both software and hardware).

    Did I go Windows? Nope.

    Did I go Mac? Nope.

    Did I go Android hybrid? Nope.

    Decided to get the new Dell 13 Chromebook with i3 CPU. Fabulous bit of it, just works out of the box. Super fast and good build quality too. Upgradable SSD as well! Very pleased.

  20. abedarts

    I could be excited

    If a new Phone appeared that charged in 5 minutes - wirelessly

    And gave me really really fast connection to the internet, everywhere

    And that I could think at or wiggle my eyes to make it do things, or something easier than what we have

    And if a new Car appeared that could drive me home while I slept in the back

    And avoided traffic brilliantly

    And went off and parked itself after it dropped me off. And came and fetched me when I was done.

    And a ton more things that just need better technology than we have right now. We were supposed to have jet packs and silver suits that adapted to any weather by now, what's holding things up?!

    1. The Travelling Dangleberries

      Re: I could be excited

      "And if a new Car appeared that could drive me home while I slept in the back

      And avoided traffic brilliantly

      And went off and parked itself after it dropped me off. And came and fetched me when I was done."

      And locks you in itself after a fracas outside the pub after closing time and drives you to the nearest nick.

      And drives itself back to the dealer when you fail to make the payments for a couple of months.

      And displays video ads on the inside of the windscreen, specially tailored for you on the basis of the places it has driven you to recently.

      Oh yes, so many things to get excited about.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: I could be excited

        Between Abedarts and the Travelling Dangleberries, we've a good test of the late Mr Adams rules on reactions to technologies...

        “I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

        1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

        2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

        3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

        - Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt.

        So is Abedart around thirty-five or is The travelling Dangleberries excessively pessimistic?

        (Personally between greedy corporations and interfering government, I know which reality I see as more likely.)

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I could be excited

      And that I could think at or wiggle my eyes to make it do things, or something easier than what we have

      "A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program. "

    3. gerryg

      Re: I could be excited

      ...and I didn't pay for it when I didn't use it

      Isn't that called "a taxi"?

  21. TeeCee Gold badge
    Meh

    Slight snag.

    For somewhere north of 99% of "things", connecting them to the internet doesn't actually make them any better at what they do......

    The ability to turn other people's houses into ovens or freezers remotely[1] does sound like fun though.

    [1] You'll almost certainly get bored with fiddling with that thermostat from your phone after a few goes but, rest assured, the bad guys will keep looking for that loophole until they find it.

  22. andykb3

    Technology is exciting when it solves problems and/or makes your life easier. Smartphones have reached the point that they do everything we actually want of them. I can't think of a single new function I want from my phone - although one feature I like has all but disappeared (removable battery).

    It's for this reason I don't thing IoT will take up the slack - as far as I can see it solves very few problems. Plus the premium it commands far outweighs the benefits as far as I can see. I'll pass until I see a genuine benefit that justifies the additional cost, or until the price comes down far enough that there is no premium to justify. Then I'll consider the privacy implications.

    Smartwatches suffer from the same issues. Most people are happy with what their watch does, with the added benefit of not having to charge it every day or so. They will never become as ubiquitous as the smartphone. Having said that, ironically I just bought a Pebble, but then it was very cheap (<£50) and solved a specific problem.

    The market is mature, and now the industry is now desperately looking for the next big thing they can persuade everyone they must have. In the mean time, phones and TVs will improve gradually, but won't be revolutionized any time soon. Until someone solves the battery life conundrum.

  23. Teiwaz Silver badge

    IOT? WTF?

    IOT, honestly.

    Manufacturers should be spending more effort on phone charge capacity, charge times and clearing other glaring inefficiencies of current tech before rushing a new half baked idea out the door.

    This is what happens when Marketing leads...

    Almost as B-Ark as the Fashion industry - 'long skirts, cloud services and IOT is in in this season'

  24. Yugguy

    Don't need the brand new shiny

    The simple fact is that if my current technology does everything I need it to do then I am not about to waste my money.

    If that changes then I'll investigate and purchase.

    I won't purchase just because it's new.

    Even my 10 year old daughter understands this. She has a 7 inch Galaxy tab, a year or so old. For her recent birthday and Christmas we asked her if she wanted a new one. No, she said, this does everything I want it to do. I was very proud. (;->

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No skin off Apple's nose

    I am sure plenty having bought the relatuvely small 720p iPhone 6s will be gunning for something bigger with a decent screen.

    With Android, the same low end starts at the bigger £35 Doogee X5. And near everone who wants one already has the next big 1080p+++ thing at pocket money prices, so Android sales will fail to rise.

    'Treat them mean, keep them keen' still very much works for Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No skin off Apple's nose

      Wow. I knew that Apple was falling behind in the innovation race, but it's good to know that they are so far behind and low end that you can now get the same on Android for £35 as you get in the flagship Apple phone. Gonna save me a lot of money next time I choose to upgrade.

  26. Hi Wreck

    Batteries

    Batteries will drive the replacement cycle. Of course, once they last more than two years, this too will change.

  27. Robert Moore

    Accenture...

    It is a study by Accenture, so you know the conclusions are wrong.

    The only "tech company" I have ever hung up on when they called to offer me a job.

    I didn't think my career could ever recover from the shame.

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