Consumers are less likely to buy single-function electronic products in the next year, while intentions to buy multi-function devices have increased dramatically. This is according to a new Accenture survey, presented in its 2013 Global Consumer Electronics Products and Services Usage Report. 
Conducted in September 2012, the survey explored consumer usage and spending habits for 16 types of consumer electronic devices, 11 of which perform a single function and five that execute multiple functions.
Consumers’ intentions to purchase single-function devices have fallen or remained flat compared with the prior year. For example, the percentage of survey respondents planning to buy BluRay DVD players fell slightly, from 11% to 10%, while purchase intentions for digital photo cameras, digital video cameras and game consoles remained flat.
In sharp contrast, the percentage of respondents planning to buy multi-function devices in the next year increased significantly, from 16% a year ago to 36% for desktop and laptop PCs; from 27% to 41% for smartphones; from 20% to 33% for HDTVs; and from 16% to 23% for tablet computers.
“The consumer electronics market is now predominantly a four-horse race among multi-function devices – PCs, smartphones, tablets and HDTVs,” says Mattias Lewren, MD of Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech industry group.
“This development amounts to a call to action for electronics manufacturers. They need to focus squarely on innovative devices with multiple applications, from browsing to media consumption to communications in various settings. Consumers want ‘do-it-all’ capabilities in various sizes and user experiences that fit their different lifestyle needs.”
While purchase intent for single-function devices is largely flat or declining, a few bright spots emerged, namely basic mobile phones, global positioning satellite (GPS) devices, health and fitness devices and, to a lesser extent, e-books.
The percentage of survey respondents intending to purchase these devices rose, albeit from a relatively small base: basic mobile phones (increased from 6% to 10%); GPS (from 9% to 11%); health and fitness devices (from 7% to 9%); and e-books (from 8% to 9%). But the functionality of even these devices is increasingly being integrated into multi-function products such as smartphones.
The survey also polled respondents on operating system preferences. It revealed a lack of loyalty to any single operating system for use on most multi-function devices. Nearly two-thirds (66%) indicated they might consider purchasing a mobile or computing device with a different operating system.
About one-fourth (24%) say they would consider a switch to “see what else is on the market”; 23% to “have a better user experience with another operating system”; and 23% to “get access to more innovative services and applications”.
“The lack of consumer commitment to any single platform offers numerous opportunities for electronics manufacturers,” adds Lewren. “The platforms that offer a more intuitive user experience, and diverse and sticky applications with compatibility across devices, will be key to creating consumer loyalty in this four-horse race.”