Technalysis Research
Previous Blogs

June 16, 2014
Insider Extra: Dell and the Battle for Business

June 10, 2014
Screen Overload to Drive Screen-less Devices

June 3, 2014
Apple Drives Vision of Seamless Multi-Device Computing

May 27, 2014
Surface Pro 3: The Future of PCs?

May 22, 2014
Insider Extra: SanDisk: The Many Faces of Flash

May 20, 2014
The Technological Divining Rod

May 13, 2014
Computing in the Cloud

May 6, 2014
Device Usage a Question of Degree

April 29, 2014
The Next Smartphone Battleground: Durability

April 22, 2014
BYOD: A Work in Progress

April 18, 2014
Insider Extra: AMD Back in the Groove

April 15, 2014
The Mobility Myth

April 9, 2014
BYOD Dilemma: Devices vs. Data

April 8, 2014
Insider Extra: Qualcomm's Evolving Story

April 1, 2014
A Wearables Forecast

March 25, 2014
Measuring Success in Wearables? It's Thousands of Thousands

March 24, 2014
Insider Extra: Intel Strategy Moves Forward

March 18, 2014
IOT: Islands of Isolated Things?

March 11, 2014
Wearables Cautionary Tale

March 4, 2014
The New Platform Battle

February 25, 2014
Watch What Happens

February 18, 2014
Talkin' 'bout Touchpads

February 11, 2014
The MultiOS Conundrum

February 4, 2014
Computing Redefined

January 28, 2014
The Apple Problem

January 21, 2014
The 2-in-1s People Might Want

January 14, 2014
The Post Tablet Era

January 7, 2014
The Innovation Asymptote

December 31, 2013
Top 5 2014 Predictions

December 17, 2013
Holiday Shoppers Gifting Themselves

December 10, 2013
Companion Apps

December 3, 2013
Aisle Check

TECHnalysis Research Blog

June 17, 2014
Moving to Markets of One

The consumer tech industry is reaching a bit of a crossroads as many companies are finding it harder and harder to create megahit products that sell in the tens or even hundreds of millions, such as Apple’s iPad, or Samsung’s Galaxy 5S. In fact, there’s increasing chatter about how we may never see those kinds of huge tech product hits again because of the growing diversity of options combined with the increasing sophistication of buyers. Some have also argued that we’ve reached a stopping point or temporary lull in innovation, at least when it comes to hardware.

I believe there may be kernels of truth in all those different arguments, but as I’ve thought through the issue a bit more, I’ve come to realize there’s another even more important factor at play: the increasing desire for customization and personalization. As technology products have moved into the mainstream and the enormous amount of time that people spend with these devices has turned them into knowledgeable users, there’s a growing awareness and appreciation for exactly what aspects people like and don’t like about their favorite tech products.

Plus, as tech devices become more commonplace, and take an increasingly important—indeed intimate—role in our lives, the desire to make them more of an extension of ourselves continues to grow. Arguably, we’ve seen aspects of this trend for quite some time. For example, the enormous variety of mobile phone cases is a small attempt at trying to personalize or customize the most ubiquitous of modern tech devices.

Though it’s not a perfect analogy, I’d argue that many tech devices are starting to become more like clothing or fashion accessories than anything else. Just as there is enormous variety in the types of clothes or jewelry or watches we all purchase and wear, so too, do I believe we will see more and more demand for that level of variety in the area of technology.

I’ve previously discussed the impact of these personalization trends on the burgeoning wearables market (see “Measuring Success in Wearables: It’s Thousands of Thousands”), but in thinking through this more, I believe it will soon be applicable for many different types of products, from smartphones and tablets to PCs and other devices. The desire to customize and personalize these devices, through a combination of physical differences, accessories and software customizations, will continue to grow, with a direct correlation between the amount of time we carry and/or use a device and our interest in making it our own. Vendors who can offer the ability to customize their devices—such as what Motorola’s been experimenting with on the Moto X line of phones—will have a distinct advantage across an increasingly large group of more sophisticated, design-conscious consumers.

I believe this trend also goes beyond individual devices. Part of how we now define ourselves is by the “collection” of devices we own and/or regularly use (in some cases, purchased by your employer, for example). Looking past wearables to the whole potential opportunity around the Internet of Things (IOT), it’s not at all difficult to imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where nearly everyone has a unique combination of devices within their personal collection. The challenge will be for vendors to create a variety of different options which can fit within, and work within, the set of devices a consumer already owns.

Ultimately, the goal is to drive personalization to its most extreme case and start building for markets of one. As crazy as that may sound, we’ve already started to see efforts to direct advertising messages to individuals, through the use of big data and analytics tools, so we’re arguably moving down that path. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more innovations happening in the area of customized manufacturing over the next few years. That may not drive the kinds of mass sales successes we’ve seen in the past, but it can and should drive the creation of more impactful devices that get even more intertwined into our daily lives.

Here's a link to the original column:

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