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Looking into the Future

10 things you absolutely have to know about how we’ll use tech in 2013

If you’re anything like us here in the ‘burn offices, you’re so addicted to tech that what seemed magical six months ago seems old hat now. But take a broader view. Think how far we’ve come in the past few years. It’s astonishing. Now imagine where we’re going, what will change in the next few years.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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The truth is, it’s not just the tech that changes. As tech evolves, it shapes us too. It changes the way we shop, how we interact with people and how approach and, behave at, work.

Over the next year, we’re likely to increasingly buy devices based on how well they integrate with all their other gadgets. Think about it, who wants to have five different games of Angry Birds Star Wars going on at once. Being able to access all your business documents, no matter what device you’re on is also important, although nowhere near as fun.

We’ll also increasingly use our smartphones for shopping, merging the online and offline shopping experiences. Trust in traditional structures is steadily being eroded by economic uncertainty meanwhile. Its place in society is steadily being replaced by the social network. We trust our personal networks, and would much rather use them for advice on shopping and job-hunting than a traditional agency or review guide.

Those are just some of the takeaways from the hot consumer trends for 2013 report by networking giant Ericsson’s ConsumerLab group. The group has been producing the report for around 15 years now.

According to Michael Björn, Head of Research at ConsumerLab is based on annual interviews with over 100 000 individuals in more than 40 countries and 15 megacities.

“Over the years we have amassed a huge database of consumer trend data — and we see that the pace of change is currently more rapid than ever,” he says.

1. The cloud is changing what we want from devices
More than 50% of tablet users and well above 40% of smartphone users in USA, Japan, Australia and Sweden appreciate the improved simplicity of having the same apps and data seamlessly available through the cloud on multiple devices.

2. Computing for a scattered mind
From desktops, files and folders to flat surfaces, apps and cloud services, consumers are increasingly turning their backs on a computing paradigm for the focused mind. Tasks are handled at the spur of the moment — as we stand in a shopping line or talk to someone at a café. Purchase intent is higher for tablets compared to desktop PCs, and for smartphones compared to laptops.

3. Bring your own broadband
A total of 57% of smartphone users use their personal smartphone subscriptions at work. Personal smartphones are increasingly being used for work, to send emails, plan business trips, find locations and more.

4. People in cities want mobile no matter what
By relentlessly accessing the internet always and everywhere, consumers are now an unstoppable force making internet truly mobile. Total smartphone subscriptions will reach 3.3-billion by 2018 and mobile network coverage is one of the most important drivers of satisfaction for city life.

5. Personal social security networks are about to get big
As a result of economic turbulence, trust in traditional structures and authorities is decreasing and consumers increasingly trust their personal communities. Personal networks online serve as a safety net and social media is shaping up to be a serious contender to the traditional job agency.

6. Women will drive the smartphone market
New figures clearly show that women drive mass-market smartphone adoption. No less than 97% of female smartphone owners use SMS. A total of 77% send and receive photos, 59% use social networking, 24 percent check in at locations and 17 percent redeem coupons. The figures for men are lower in these areas.

7. Cities are becoming hubs for social creativity
City center dwellers have significantly more friends online than people in suburban areas. Twelve percent of people who live in cities say that the main reason for using social networks is to connect and exchange ideas with others, making it the third most common reason for social networking after staying up-to-date with friends.

8. Smartphones: where online shopping meets the physical store
A total of 32 percent of smartphone users already shop with smartphones; they now start to combine in-store and online shopping aspects. They want to see products, get information and make price comparisons, and make purchases immediately without having to queue up at the cash register.

9. TV will increasingly go social
A total of 62 percent of viewers use social forums while watching video and TV — and 42% of those who use social forums or chats while watching discuss things they currently watch on a weekly basis. Over 30 percent are more likely to pay for content watched in social contexts. The majority of video and TV consumption on mobile devices takes place in the home.

10. Learning in transformation
Learning is transformed through both internal and external forces: young people bring their personal technology experience into the classroom, driving a bottom-up pressure for change. Simultaneously governments and institutions look for new ICT solutions in order to be more efficient. Connectivity changes the outlook for children on a global scale. In India, around 30-million of 69-million urban children aged 9 to 18 own mobile phones.