Hefty prices and consumer-baffling technology continues to hold back the development and adoption of space age converged digital home solutions, according to a survey by Accenture.
The survey – which involved 2,600 consumers in the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan – asked people their opinions on a converged digital home; i.e. a home system covering entertainment (home theatre, TV and hi-fis), healthcare (remote measure blood pressure sensing, pulse and temperature), home management (controlled security sensors, locks, fire detection and cameras) and the virtual office (voice, email and fax).
In no uncertain terms, cost was flagged up as the biggest barrier to purchasing a digital home solution, with more than three-quarters (80 percent) unhappy with the wallet-draining prices of home systems.
Consumers also wanted things simplified, with more than two-thirds (70 percent) saying that they would prefer to have a single provider for the content, services and digital devices.
“Despite strong consumer desire for a single aggregator for converged or complete digital home packages, many companies in this space provide only a portion of the content or services that comprise the complete digital home,” said Al Delattre, a partner in Accenture’s Communications & High Tech practice.
“In order to truly meet consumer needs, stronger collaboration and partnerships among hardware, content and service companies is imperative,” he added.
The survey respondents were served up four different types of digital home formats – home entertainment, home heathcare, home management and virtual office offerings – and asked for their feedback.
When asked what benefit would most encourage them to wedge out for a converged digital home solution, the greatest number of respondents, 56 percent, said, “save money,” followed by, “make life easier” (46 percent), “improve home energy efficiency” (41 percent), “save time” (40 percent) and “make my life at home more fun” (34 percent).
Although consumers show strong interest in the digital home concept, it’s not just the cost that is making them a tad wary: the survey revealed concerns about data privacy and security (40 percent), complexity of installation (35 percent), equipment becoming outdated quickly (33 percent), and the need to replace current home equipment (32 percent).
The bad news for box-shifting hi tech companies is that a mere 4 percent of all respondents said they could afford a converged digital home service now, although 48 percent believed such a service would be affordable in one to five years.
Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) reckoned they’d never be able to afford such a service.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, with consumers expressing a willingness to pay additional fees each month for services designed to enhance ease of use and convenience.
In the survey, 65 percent of respondents said they’d be happy to shell out for digital home services and content in a subscription or leasing model, and that they’d be willing to pay an additional US$20 (~€16~£11) to US$50 (~€41~£28) per month for automated, value-added services like secured data backup, system support, and specialised content such as medical data collection.
“Consumers will increasingly become more of a development driver for digital home solutions,” said Delattre. “But it is clear that the technology itself is just one piece – business models and customer support are almost as important as the product itself. Without demonstrated and specific consumer preferences to drive adoption of the digital home concept, it will continue to be just that – a concept.”