With ever-growing consumer requirements, and companies on their toes trying to meet expectations, the phrase “the consumer is king” has never been as true as it is today, in this era of modern technology. Technological advances have meant that we have seen some substantial changes in consumer behaviour on a global scale.
We wanted to know how consumer behaviour affected global advances in technology , so we asked some popular personalities. Here is what views we got from them.
Who did we Interview?
Daniel Nye Griffiths Adam Oxford Jake Basford
Daniel Nye Griffiths – Freelance Journalist
In his own words he is: Associate Director, Albion Drive. Resting tech journalist
How has VR affected gaming and consumer behaviour globally?
What did Daniel say ?
Virtual reality has been a technology seeking its moment for some time – however, in order to become a credible proposition, a whole stack of technologies had to become far smaller, cheaper and more power-efficient. So, to a considerable extent, the modern resurgence of VR has been built on the economic and technical imperatives of the smartphone economy – both in the relative affordability of dedicated VR hardware, and the possibilities provided by hybrid devices which use smartphones as their brains, displays and sensors.
Gaming is a good place to test VR because core gamers are early adopters of technology, and tend to have powerful devices – with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive lined up for release in 2016, along with the PlayStation VR, we are going to see that kind of high-power, controller-driven equipment in the consumer market. However, with high initial prices, uptake is likely to be slow to begin with – Facebook’s CFO Dave Wehner has said that Oculus VR’s corporate parent does not expect revenues from the Rift headset to be material in 2016. The inflection point will come, as it did with smartphones, when production efficiency reduces cost, and increasing familiarity with the technology helps developers to make better games – just as Halo sold the Xbox.
However, low-cost VR experiences driven by smartphones have beaten these higher-quality experiences to the market, and are gaining momentum: Oculus also powers the software component of GearVR, a headset designed to hold a high-end Samsung phone. Samsung is giving away free headsets with new phones, bringing hundreds of thousands of VR experiences into the market. And the universality, simplicity and low cost of phone cradles modeled on Google’s Cardboard design mean that they can be literally given away: the New York Times included an unfolded Cardboard holder with 1.3 million issues.
The lower the cost, the less sophisticated the interface is likely to be, of course. Most of the experiences available for Cardboard have limited interactivity, and are panoramic movies more than games. This still represents a radically different approach to filming, however, and also helps to prepare the market for new ways of seeing.
In his words: I’m a journalist who writes about technology, whatever that actually means. To be a little more specific, I cover consumer electronics, PC hardware, tablets, international development, environmental issues, telecoms, open data, big data, data privacy, on and offline gaming, Africa and… that’s not actually much more specific, is it?
What did Adam say ?
This is chicken and egg isn’t it? Has consumer behaviour affected technology or has technology affected consumer behaviour? In the case of the smartphone, for example, it’s clear that a new technology has completely transformed the lives of well over a billion people on the planet. In the case of 3D TVs, it’s the opposite – a technology which was heavily marketed and lots of brands invested in just flat failed to to inspire.
For software-based technologies it’s also a two-way street: consumers get around more easily thanks to Uber, but are a lot more aware of the history, economics and regulation of the taxi industry as a result of the kickback against Uber by the industry it disrupts. You could say the same about Facebook and privacy, Google News and traditional media or AirBNB and so on. In each of these cases, however, I’d argue that consumer behaviour hasn’t influenced the technology much – ultimately, no matter how critical consumers are of some aspects of services, if what is being provided by a digital disrupter is cheaper and more efficient than what was there before consumers will carry on using it regardless of any lip service paid to its detractors. None of these services have really been forced to change their business model, despite widespread understanding and acknowledgement of their flaws.
Ultimately, I think consumer behaviour influences technology in the same way it influences everything else from washing powder to cars: if a product, service or technology is easy to use, fit for purpose and well marketed with bucket-loads of investor money (and I can’t understate the importance of this last bit) consumers will adopt it. If it’s not, they won’t – and the tech start-up scene is littered with the one horned corpses of would-be unicorns which have failed to meet all three of these tests.
Jake Basford – Geek Editor, Vadamagazine
Jake’s experience is mostly in the fields of media, PR and press, specifically within the third and LGBT sectors. In his words: At present, I work as the Media Coordinator and Fundraiser for a Castle Preservation Trust, and am the Geek Editor for Vada Magazine, as well as a freelance writer.
In five years time, Jake would like to be living in London and working in a PR/press role full-time, maybe with a paid magazine column, and a cat. Possibly even a partner.
What did Jake Say ?
Globally, there has been a paradigm shift in terms of technological advancement over the past twenty to thirty years which has previously been unseen. Prior to the 1980s, technology was advanced more or less for its own sake or for scientific gain, but because of consumers spending ever increasing amounts on the latest and greatest tech available on the open market, businesses are investing more in R&D, whereas before it would only be military organisations that would drive that kind of spend. A great example of this can be seen in the film ‘Small Soldiers’. This push has seen the creation of virtual reality, greater processors and graphics technology, and every increasingly small devices like the Raspberry Pi – things that may not have been created had it not been for consumer behaviour pushing tech creators.
What do we think?
Is consumer behaviour changing due to advances in technology? Or are changes in technology driving a change in consumer behaviour? Well each one is really an outcome of the other. With latest technology becoming obsolete within as little time as six months or so, companies need to move rapidly to meet the user demand for the latest tech. So consumer demands are driving advancement in technology, and companies have had no choice but to react and upgrade accordingly. With the introduction of internet, social media, blogs, forums, communities etc, consumers have got the power in their hands, as they well know. Hence consumer behaviour is changing on a global scale, ultimately pushing companies to upgrade their products and bring more advanced technology to the consumer market.
Links to other interviews