For the past two weeks, I was on holiday with little access to the Internet. It wasn’t that I'd gone to the ends of the earth; I was, in fact, traveling through the South of England, but we just didn’t come across many places that had Wi-Fi access. During our holiday, I also started to notice that the Brits have a more restrained way of using their mobile phones in public. While I’m used to seeing people around me in the Netherlands checking their mobile whenever and wherever, I hardly saw anyone in the UK browsing on their mobile when in the company of others.
When I commented on this to my colleagues after my return, they attributed it to my rosy outlook due to my time off. So I looked at Forrester’s Technographics® data to compare US and UK smartphone users’ behaviors. Smartphone ownership in the UK isn’t that far behind that of the US: Our recent Forrester Research World Mobile Adoption Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Global) shows that about 61% of US mobile subscribers use the mobile Internet compared with 49% of their UK peers — and we expect these numbers to grow to 75% and 70%, respectively, in 2018. More striking is our 2013 data that shows that usage of smartphones at home is comparable in both countries — but it’s the usage at restaurants and coffee shops that really differs:
At the beginning of 2013, approximately 153 million US online adults had health insurance coverage. While it serves the majority of US adults, the health insurance industry is unique in that only a minority of health insurance customers choose their health insurance provider directly. Forrester estimates that just 14% of US online adults — 25 million US adults — actively chose their health insurance provider in 2013.
However, with the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare," many new customers will enter the healthcare market. While we don't know exactly what portion of uninsured US adults will follow the mandate that all US residents must obtain health insurance, there is a large pool of potential new customers.
In fact, Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that 13% of US online adults (23 million adults) reported having no health insurance at the beginning of 2013. Of these uninsured adults, 47% don't have health insurance because they can no longer afford personal coverage; 25% left the employer that provided their coverage; and 15% never had health coverage.
I recently published a report on The European eCommerce Landscape; it shows that more than two-thirds of European online consumers are shopping online, but there are big differences among the different countries. The top categories bought online are travel, clothing and accessories, leisure and entertainment, and consumer electronics. Forrester’s European Technographics® data also reveals that European consumers increasingly prefer the Internet to high-street shops for purchases of music, computer software, event tickets, and videos:
In recent years, the Internet has become the leading channel for media products. In 2012, more European online consumers bought videos/DVDs, music, event tickets, and computer software online than offline. These online media purchases fall into two categories:
1. Digital (sold direct as a download).
2. Physical (a product that an Internet retailer delivers).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of 16 billion pictures? According to Instagram, whose 130 million active users had shared this number of photos as of June 2013, the answer is “priceless.” Individuals’ enthusiasm for capturing and sharing photos shapes our media consumption as much as it does our co-creative potential; with the launch of its video capability, Instagram’s platform may become entwined with our social futures.
Online photo and video sharing continues to gain momentum as an emerging method of communication. Internationally, Instagram plays the role of news channel by turning local perspectives into global awareness. In fact, the role of media-sharing sharing technology is so significant that the Chicago Sun Times Newspaper laid off all full-time photographers, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, with the intention of moving toward more online video provision.
We find comfort in the familiar — and when it comes to our technology preferences, it's no different. In a recent report by my colleague Michael O'Grady he explored the key decision-making factors that drive tablet adoption among consumers. While shopper demographics and needs precipitate tablet purchases in a variety of ways, ultimate brand selection depends, perhaps, on even subtler characteristics. Certainly, there are those memorable advertising campaigns, such as the recent Windows 8 commercial that parodies Apple iPads, which influence our perception of tablet brands. However, less obvious factors such as previous technology ownership and operating system familiarity may direct our tablet purchasing behavior.
Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that consumers tend to adopt tablet devices that run on the same operating system as their smartphone. Specifically, we find that US online consumers owning Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones seek out consistent operating systems on their tablet:
We finally have sunny weather here in the Netherlands -- and for me, and many of my friends and colleagues, that means it's time to prepare for our summer holidays! Will it be a family vacation close to home this year, or should we play safe and opt for a sunny getaway to Southern Europe? While collectively deciding on a destination for the family (and sometimes the extended family, too) may demand caution and compromise, the act of making travel reservations has never been easier. With hospitality companies and travel agencies moving from online to mobile portals, we have the potential to research, book, change, and enhance travel arrangements on our mobile phones at any moment – and most consumers take advantage of this.
In fact, US consumers recently selected Expedia's Hotels & Flights application as the People's Voice Travel App in the 17th Annual Webby Awards. Available for free download in nearly 20 different languages, Expedia's Hotels & Flights app serves travelers globally. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals how consumers around the world engage with travel applications. While the trend is evident among US online adults, metropolitan Asian online adults have shown even greater uptake of mobile travel apps:
I had the chance once again to do a podcast with Mike Gualtieri as part of his wonderful Forrester TechnoPolitics series, talking about the usability affordances of passwords that make them natural targets for consensual impersonation. As Mike memorably puts it, is this behavior frisky, or risky? Just like in our last podcast together, I found myself confessing deep dark authentication secrets. Take a listen and let me know your thoughts.
Three years ago, Stanford Communications Professor Emeritus Donald F. Roberts believed that American youth had hit a ceiling on media use, as there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to increase the amount of time children were spending on media. He was astounded to see that time spent on media consumption did in fact grow, as young individuals began consuming heavily across multiple devices at the same time. And the numbers have continued to increase since: More than 80% of US online consumers ages 12 to 17 multitask online while watching TV.
Multitasking behavior among this demographic has changed not only in terms of the total number of hours but also in terms of the devices used. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that in 2011, young consumers primarily went online via desktop or laptop computers while watching TV, while now they prefer to use more portable devices for multitasking activity:
Recently, I received a visit at home from a religious organization, which handed me two of its publications. As I believe that every religion has some wisdom to share, I read both magazines. What really struck me was the cross-media approach of the magazines; many articles referred to a video or website, and QR codes were placed throughout. Reading this magazine, I thought back to my recent trip to the US, where I also saw many QR codes: on advertising in the subway, in stores, in magazines. However, I didn't see anyone reading those codes. Thinking about this a bit longer, I couldn’t think of any occasion when I had observed someone using a QR code.
With that in mind, I had a look at Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® 2012 surveys for both Europe and the US to understand the uptake of QR codes by the general online audience. I found that about 8% of US online adults with a mobile phone have used QR/2D bar codes in the past month — up from only 1% in 2010 and 5% in 2011. Uptake doesn't really show huge differences by age, interestingly enough, but in both the US and Europe, men are more likely to use them than women.
I am delighted to announce that for the first time, our annual US and European consumers and technology benchmark reports have a Chinese counterpart: The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2012, China. This report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for understanding how consumers change their technology adoption, usage, and behavior over time. The report, based on one of our Asia Pacific Technographics® surveys, covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, device ownership — including penetration data and forecasts for smartphones and tablets — media consumption, retail, social media, and a deep dive on mobile.
For this report, we divided the metropolitan Chinese online consumers into three distinct groups based on their technology optimism and economic power:
Early adopters are high-income individuals who are also technology optimists — people who see technology as a positive force in their lives.
Mainstream users are either high-income technology pessimists or low-income technology optimists.