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Frustrated by new tech?

Matt Hamblen | Jan. 6, 2015
Is your new smartwatch relevant, and other pressing concerns.

With new devices launching every year,  users are being presented with products that may not improve their experience or be relevant in their lives or workplaces.

LAS VEGAS -- International CES boasts 3,500 vendors this year, many showing off new smartwatches and other wearable gadgets.

Many of these new devices are prototypes in later stages of experimentation. A lot of them won't go on sale or will be pulled off the market after a funky rollout.

"Just because you see a lot of smartwatches at CES this year doesn't mean they are all destined for success," remarked Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association which runs the annual CES event.

Many factors matter in a product's ultimate success, including production costs and marketing, but there are also some missing essentials in the new products that have caught the eye of analysts and economists at the trade show.

These experts are increasingly concerned that as wearable devices proliferate, and as growth of smartphones and tablets declines, there's way too much attention on pushing out a creative new product that's different from a competitor's. Meanwhile, there's not nearly enough focus on the relevance of these products in the daily lives of users, either in workplaces or at home.

Finding the relevance of a new technology to users rests not only on manufacturers, but also on CIOs and IT managers, who are planning new wearables for workers, along with associated apps and other software.

It's an industrywide problem. As makers of smartphones and tablets see the growth in sales of such products decline, there's been a renewed focus on churning out fresh new products. As a prime example, Samsung alone has produced six smartwatches in about a year, offering various features and styles.

In a related vein, a survey of 24,000 users in 24 countries conducted by consulting firm Accenture found that an alarming 83% reported problems using new devices such as smartwatches or in-vehicle entertainment and information systems.

Respondents said that the new smart devices are too complicated to use, didn't work as advertised, or didn't set up properly. Some saw a link between those responses and the lack of relevance for users in the new technology.

For new devices hitting the market, high-tech companies "need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience," said Sami Luukkonen, a managing director at Accenture.

CIOs and high-tech manufacturers need to show users "the relevance of connected intelligent devices and the Internet of Things to their daily lives or companies will not get to even a first interaction with them," Accenture said in a report on its global survey. Products and services also need a "wow" factor, Accenture said.


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