Have you ever forgotten to put on your smartwatch, or misplaced your tablet? Have you ever broken your headphones or the most horrifying of all…dropped your phone in the toilet? I’m not trying to scare you…but stuff happens. When it does, that’s the moment we realize how dependent we have become on our gadgets.
Our need for consumer devices has become very real, and our expectations are huge. They need to be able to play whatever music we’re in the mood for, while streaming the videos we want, while getting us to where we need to be, while we talk to our parents, as we order dinner because we are hungry from walking 10,000 steps. And there needs to be a strong signal, because it’s not like we can WAIT for any of this.
These needs (yes, needs, not wants) escalated very quickly. Fifteen years ago, the paragraph above would have been ridiculous and today, it’s routine. Keeping up with the market means keeping us interested and happy. This is no easy task considering how high our expectations have become.
So here are the Top 10 Challenges the Consumer Device industry is facing:
10. Too Many Fish in the Sea
There are enough players out there that all it takes is one cool new thing to throw brand loyalty out the window. Take your tablet and think about the brand. What swayed your decision to make the choice? Price? Reviews? OS? Compatibility with other devices? At the end of the day, there is an available option for everyone’s priority.
9. It’s not Easy being Green
The world is changing, and consumers are much more aware of the impact each device has on the planet. Businesses now have to adapt to new standards and regulations for the entire product lifespan from design to support and deliver a product that is energy-efficient to use.
8. Know the Audience Better than they Know Themselves
Consumer device manufacturers’ need to anticipate our needs before we have them. Creativity and vision need to be at the forefront of any developers’ mind. The devices we have now make what once seemed impossible common place, and that is why we buy them. It will also be the reason we buy the next one. Staying relevant matters, but keeping ahead is what sells.
7. Early Retirement
The products being developed have a much shorter life span than in any other industry. Devices get smaller and smaller then bigger and smaller again, and innovation is a juggernaut that keeps making the impossible possible. Designers and manufacturers are constantly reinventing their production line to accommodate the next big thing. With every new release, engineering, sales, and operations need to adapt to ensure needs are being met and quality is being delivered.
6. An International Affair
Each device has bits and pieces coming from all over the world. One device is likely to represent a contribution from at least 3 countries. Streamlining processes through different time zones to meet quality standards, while managing import/export regulations and staying on schedule creates a whole new top 10 of challenges, worthy of an article of its own.
5. Nothing Lasts Forever
Throughout all the rebirths our devices undergo, the one constant is that we need a longer battery life. Considering our reliance on these toys, when the battery dies we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Have you ever been in a strange neighborhood and your phone dies? It’s the worst. Now that 90% of the day to day is managed through an app, devices are being used 10 times as much yet the need for portability is making everything smaller and lighter. Improving battery life is a perpetual mountain to climb.
4. The Commitment
At the speed technology is moving, software updates need to be developed regularly and integrated seamlessly. If there is a hardware failure, it needs to be assessed and repaired quickly, at a minimal inconvenience to the customer. The cost of support and warranty can often become so high, the device is simply replaced. With these considerations, electronics need to be built very rugged but remain light enough to be worn.
3. Quality not Quantity
One thing every device has in common is that it needs to do what it’s expected to do. Once you push a button, you expect a result. If a result doesn’t come, you lose confidence in your device. Considering how many options are now available, would you go back to what you know is unreliable or try something new? Quality control and thorough testing of each unit is more important than ever now that most devices are easily replaceable. A manufacturer needs to have confidence in what they put out into the world, to not only protect their customer but their brand. To test with confidence, means testing for real-life use. With such a smart device, can it withstand the hot temperature? The cold temperature? Does it still work if you sweat? Can it transmit or read any signal? How does it react against a quick movement? These questions are the tip of the iceberg when you think about the hundreds of things a device is expected to accomplish.
2. Actually, it’s Quantity too
At the end of the day the consumer still can’t live without these products. Manufacturers need to mass produce to meet the always growing demand, and they need to deliver quality every time. Contract Manufacturers are being used more and more and Automated Testing is the only option to ensure quality at the speed and volume that is required to stay competitive.
1. It’s All about the Benjamins
And of course, the number one challenge, concern, and priority for all manufacturers remains, how do I do all this and still manage to make some money? To stay ahead of the pack and be a leader in your industry, is all about finding creative ways to re-use, automate and innovate. These are the secret ingredients to keep that margin from dropping.