The rise of the multifunctional device is perhaps epitomized by the smartphone—it’s a phone, computer, web browser, camera and gaming platform folded into one device that fits in your pocket. For many consumers, all of that functionality has obviated the need for a number of single-function devices, a trend reflected in an October 2012 survey by Accenture of internet users in 11 countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the US.
The poll found that four devices topped the list of consumer electronics that respondents planned to purchase over the next 12 months—smartphones, PCs, HDTVs and tablets. With the exception of HDTVs, the devices with the highest levels of purchase intent were multipurpose.
Smartphones and tablets, in particular, saw the sharpest growth in ownership rates from 2011 to 2012 among respondents. Smartphone penetration climbed from 48% in 2011 to 58% in 2012, while tablet ownership rates almost doubled over the same period, going from 14% to 25%.
The flip side of this growth is that ownership rates in other device categories has dropped significantly. Penetration of non-Blu-ray DVD players saw an especially precipitous fall over a four-year period, from 72% in 2009 to 44% in 2012. Consumers appear to be upgrading to Blu-ray players, which have seen steady growth over the same period.
The intent to buy multipurpose devices is especially common among US millennials, according to a November report from Scarborough Research. Among this group, the purchase intent for electronic devices was highest for tablets at 11%, followed closely by smartphones at 10%.