My Mobile delves into the pandemic-induced shift in our preferences for devices that are a part of our daily life
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about instrumental changes in our lifestyle. While earlier we loved shaking a leg to a large speaker, we now prefer speakers that are portable and can be accessed remotely using a smartphone. Instead of sporting a band for tracking activities, we now largely prefer smartwatches that come with host of health monitors to keep a tab on blood oxygen level, blood pressure and heart rate etc. In fact, the Bluetooth-equipped smartwatches are also swiftly emerging as the future of calling (we discussed about this in our Cover Story, Sep. 2021). We decided to delve into the pandemic-induced shift in our preferences for devices that are a part of our daily life.
The key point here has been the focus on minimizing contact, with smartphones being the prime repository of all the access. Not to be mistaken though, smartwatches have taken it a notch further by remotely accessing mobile for calls etc. And it’s not just about streaming music on a speaker through a cellphone, it is also about increased affinity toward devices that are only for personal usage and also about controlling electrical appliances or bulbs at home through the smartphones. The change is evident across segments like audio, wearables and smart consumer technology.
According to a few industry players, the transformation ushered in by the pandemic has been quite significant and prominent. Talking about the changes, Indian consumer technology brand Crossbeats Co-founder Archit Agarwal said, “The audio segment encompasses consumers across age brackets, geographies or locations, and the pandemic has definitely had a significant impact in terms of the trends in the audio industry. Devices those are smaller, portable and mobile have witnessed surge in demand. Instead of spending a fortune on something that would lay unused most often, buyers now prefer to spend on devices like earbuds, which they do not need to share with anyone and ensures a more immersive experience for both recreation and calls.”
He further said that “the demand has also been triggered by the technological advancements in the segment with regard to noise cancellation and true wireless stereo.” When asked how the future of the segment looks like, he added that “the tryst now is to make premium tier features available to mass consumers in an affordable price range. The widespread diversification within the truly wireless earbuds is also something that we should look out for.”
Wearable is another segment that has taken strides since its evolution. In the first quarter of 2021, the Indian wearable market witnessed an unprecedented 170% YoY growth as per latest data furnished by the International Data Corporation. Watches were adjudged the fastest growing category in wearables, growing at a phenomenal 463.8%. And the best part is that the brands spearheading the growth were not global but home grown.
Speaking about the surge in the wearable segment, Arnav Kishore, the co-founder of Fire-Boltt, the fastest growing Indian wearable brand as per the IDC report, said that “it is both style quotient and health monitoring capabilities that give an edge to wearables, especially the smartwatches. One of the most sophisticated, affordable and personal devices in recent times, the value of wearables has expanded rapidly. When a smartwatch is powered with features like SpO2 monitor, BP tracker and heart rate tracker, it alleviates the need to spending on multiple devices.”
Sharing his insights on what the future of smartwatches would possibly be, Arnav added, “We should not be surprised to discover IoT features in our smartwatches in near future, that too in a price range that everyone can afford. While they are already widely used for calling purposes, they would be used for controlling different devices or appliances.”
Smart Consumer Technology
While smartwatches are slated to offer IoT features pretty soon, the smart consumer technology domain seems to have already taken the stepping stone. According to Achin Gupta, Country Head-India at French lifestyle brand Zoook, which has launched a number of audio and smart devices in the Indian market, “the focal point of transformations triggered by the pandemic has been on making things contact less. The inclination towards making our homes smart is actually an after effect of the pandemic. These devices offer ease of use, are based on DIY mechanism and minimize a lot of contact. For instance, smart LED bulbs that are compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant are more in demand, and so are in demand are WiFi-enabled smart IR blasters and smart plugs that allow one to access multiple electronic appliances and devices from the smartphone.
He further said, “The affordability and ease of use of such devices is driving the surge in demand. For connectivity, all these devices and accessories need is a stable WiFi connection or a mobile hotspot. Who wouldn’t want a smart home where they turn the AC on even before entering the home from scorching heat?”
The aforementioned insights and trends sum up how the altered preferences have been in favour of personal devices rather than those for shared usage. Perhaps, it is the era of social distancing that is leading to an evolution of virtual proximity with self.