Companies that understand how consumers feel about technology, says Samsung’s David Steel, will dominate the electronics industry in the coming years.
Question: What key trends will drive the consumer electronics landscape in the year ahead?
David Steel: Consumer electronics has been an amazing growth industry for the last few years. We've seen this tremendous explosion in terms of digital TV's in people's homes and mobile devices. And now people with two or three cell phones and other types of mobile devices. We're seeing netbooks and so on.
So, there's been this big growth of devices out there and that's obviously been a big part of Samsung's rise, but now what we see is more of a transformation to consumer experience. So, it's less and less about the hardware itself. It's more about the emotional connection with it. It's about the experience of using the product so your user experience, URIUX that's becoming more important. The interface is much more significant than in the past. Design is a more important element, the look and feel, touch of products.
My favorite example is the TV. It used to be a big box you would hide away in the corner of the room. Now, it's something sleek, almost like a picture, you want to hang up on the wall. So, we're seeing that, we're seeing more applications coming, content and services delivered through devices. A cell phone started out being about just talking to people; now it's much more about the content and services that you can get through that device. So, that's really where we're going to see in 2010, I think, a big evolution which is now that all these devices are out there, we're going to see much more about the service and the experience that's delivered. Design will be more important, using more interface will be more important, and all the kind of content you can get through these various devices.
Question: How do you discover what customers want in order to strengthen their emotional connection with your product?
David Steel: That's right that the emotional feedback is becoming much more important. It used to be about a device for a device's sake. Now, it's much more about what you can do with that. So, what does it do for me as a consumer? We think about the experience of using that. So, that's why we do a lot of research now to really understand consumer needs and consumer tastes and unmet needs of consumers. We've really evolved in the consumer electronic space from being very technology driven to being almost like a consumer product or packaged goods industry where it's really about how we manage our brand and how we gain insights about consumers. So, we have a big effort in terms of market insights and consumer research, which I head up here in North America, to get out there and understand what consumers are looking for. What the unmet needs are.
I'll give you one example, which is to move content between different devices. I was out recently taking photos, family photos on vacation. We get back and I pull out the card, put it into my PC and we all stand around a 20 inch monitor looking at these photos in the room next door, there is a 55 inch TV. That's where I want to watch the photos. So, we need to make it much easier to move content between different devices; big screens for certain content, PC's for certain content, mobile phone for certain content.
So, those kind of insights that we can get from the way in which consumers use product and also the things they want to do with products, that's where we can really get benefit.