Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]
The people of Britain like their tech like their reality TV hosts, simple and entertaining. In the latest research from global communications firm Ketchum, familiar technology has the greatest appeal in the UK with television proving to be the favourite.
Simplicity in the use and the purpose of technology also seems to be important in the UK. 76% of customers said they are not satisfied with technology’s ability to make their life simpler. But then the Brits are not entirely alone as through 6,000 responses in six different countries, consumers said that they would prefer technology to be easier to use, to simplify their lives, entertain them and signal who they are to the world.
This seems to point toward a certain laziness on the part of consumers who might prefer to sit back and be satisfied than to put in a little effort to get their just rewards.
The Ketchum Digital Living Index is based on an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Ketchum Global Research and Analytics. The study took place in the UK, US, Germany, Spain and China and a national sample of 1000 adults aged 18-64 in the US and 16-64 in the other countries were interviewed online.
Some of the results were not so surprising, 80% of Brits like or love their smartphones in comparison with 94% of Chinese people. UK users are also less willing to engage with complex technology as much as their Chinese peers.
The UK uses smartphones predominantly for information (40%) while for China that figure is only 33%. Meanwhile 30% of Chinese consumers use the smartphone for entertainment compared to just 17% of Brits. Maybe it’s still a bit too fiddly a format to suit the UK.
Cultural anthropologist Emma Gilding, collaborated with Ketchum on the study design and data interpretation, she says,
“The experience in China with various forms of entertainment and ‘technotainment’ depends on age, gender, income and education just like everywhere else in the world.
What is significantly different between the UK and China is that in the UK we went through layers of maturation levels – exposure to technological advances step by step, whereas in China layers were skipped, from village landline to personal mobile technology in one step.
Through the constant exposure to TVs and telephone updates, we in the West have become desensitized to tech advances because we have grown with them.
Our concept of innovation is somewhat jaded. The next advancement is always around the corner so why not wait until the next release of a new smartphone? In China, however, the situation is completely different. The access to unlimited technology is somewhat new to them, so they are in discovery mode and therefore consciously interact with it in many more ways.”
Convenience over control?
One of the worrying aspects about the Western relationship with technology is whether or not users are becoming too lazy to claim ownership over the data and technologies they use. Once we hand over the keys to companies about how we can get to information and open up technologies to suit us as individuals, we lose control over things like access, modification and even how long consumer tech can last without repair.
There is something to be said for meeting in the middle with technology. A little effort from us can unlock a great deal more satisfaction while manufacturers can also provide easier methods of access to sate the simplicity we crave.
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