I use holiday dinners, brunches, and gatherings to observe tech trends among family and friends. I’m convinced at times that anecdotal evidence is just as useful as a fancy “scientific” study. Since I am observing mostly the same people each year, sampling bias should be somewhat reduced. Here are some observations from the past two weeks:
- Phones. Within my social circle, it comes down to an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy phone, or feature phone. It has been like this for at least a year, but I am not exaggerating when I say I saw no other kind of phone. The iPhone 6/6 Plus upgrade cycle looks to be very strong, with older iPhone models (iPhone 5c) making inroads in families with 3-4+ phones. Phone personalization via various phone cases is also rampant.
- Phone Sizes. A Samsung Galaxy Note (5.7-inch display) was the biggest phone I saw in the wild, although iPhone 6 Plus (5.5-inch display) was somewhat popular among teenagers. There is still a yearning for the iPhone 5s display (4-inch).
- Apps. A few years back, I would hear conversation about the latest downloaded app or how a particular app was very cool. Not anymore.
- Cameras. Last year, I still saw a few instances of people using dedicated regular cameras. This year: no dedicated cameras. Most have switched over to smartphones given much easier sharing capabilities.
- Tablets. I didn't see as much enthusiasm for tablets in 2014. Tablets are primarily being used as video players (Netflix and YouTube).
- TV. Still popular with more than a handful of instances of upgraded TV sets.
- Wearables. Crickets.
- Smart Home Devices. Crickets.
- Other. Frustration with cable and home internet service providers is continuing to grow.
Summing up my 2014 holiday tech observations:
- The iPhone 6/6 Plus have ushered in the largest iPhone upgrade cycle Apple has ever experienced.
- Samsung is holding its own among its loyal users in the phone market, but newer users to the brand are opting for older and cheaper Samsung Galaxy models.
- Smartphones are basically turning into cameras with social messaging capabilities.
- App discovery (and sadly innovation) seems to be slowing with concentrated pockets of exception.
- People like watching video on big screens (i.e. televisions).
- Tablets continue to lose their cool factor, and bigger phones are taking over many use cases once held by tablets.
- The first wave of smartwatches flopped.