Consumer Choice Is the New Tech Industry Theme

Over the past few years, signs have pointed to a number of consumer tech product markets reaching their maturity. In the western markets, for example, we are well into replacement cycles for products like PCs, smartphones, and even tablets to a degree. When a market becomes more of a replacement market than a first time buyer market, interesting things happen. Primarily, it segments, and new products start focusing on specific features that may be attractive to certain segments of the market, large and small. The outcome of this is an increase in consumer choice. Some categories have more choices than others, of course. TVs, for example, which have been in a replacement cycle for many years, offer a wide variety of displays, ports, sizes and price ranges. Similarly, the traditional PC is now seeing an increase in form factor choices. The smartphone is the latest device that’s beginning to see this increase in consumer choice. We have smartphones with different colors, display options, screen sizes and prices. The tablet is not quite there yet, but it’s on the cusp the same trend happening. When an increase in consumer choices comes to a product segment we know, the market has reached a point of maturity. When a market reaches maturity, competition heats up. An increase in competition is always a good thing for consumers. 2014 will mark a critical point for many of us industry observers due to the above points. When a market reaches maturity, often the competitive dynamics begin to shift. How companies competing in consumer tech product segments react to this shift is key to thriving in the market going forward. A key shift in mature markets can often favor ecosystems. An ecosystem could be a hardware ecosystem, software ecosystem, services ecosystem, or some combination of all three. In mature markets, the companies that create the strongest lock-in are the best suited to compete. This lock-in has to be something a consumer desires rather than a lock-in that results in a consumer feeling trapped, like the lock-in most


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