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„That the Introduction of the iPhone and the Beginning of B2X Are in the Same Year Is a Nice Coincidence – It Fits Together so Well!“

Kimberly Meyer

 

10 years of B2X! We are celebrating our first big anniversary and are proud of our achievements so far. Founded in 2007 as a startup by Karim Barkawi and a small team of consultants, today B2X is the world’s leading provider of customer care solutions for smartphones and consumer IoT devices. We talked with CEO Rainer Koppitz about the history and future of B2X. Rainer has been managing the global organization with more than 1,000 employees and operations in 140 counties since the beginning of last year.

 

 

B2X Blog: Rainer, can you still remember what kept you busy the most in 2007, the year that B2X was founded?

 

Rainer Koppitz: Yes, quite well, actually. At that time, I was leading the German business of Siemens Enterprise Communications. We faced many challenges, but what has remained in my memory regarding our industry is Steve Jobs and his impressive presentation of the first iPhone model. At a private presentation at Schloss Bensberg, I was one of the first Europeans to hold one in my hands and try some of the new features like flipping through a gallery of pictures – and all of a sudden I knew this device will change how we communicate and work. Interestingly enough, today Apple is one of B2X’s most important customers. That the introduction of the iPhone and the founding date of B2X should be in the same year is a nice coincidence. This was of course not planned, but it does fit together so well.

 

B2X Blog: The motto for the 10th anniversary is “10 Years of Innovation”. Which B2X innovation highlights most impress you?

 

Rainer Koppitz: From today’s point of view, our company founder Karim Barkawi must have had a sixth sense when he began with the idea of B2X. The entire mobile sector was facing a massive transformation that was driven not least by the introduction of the iPhone, as previously mentioned. The industry’s focus was on technology until the mid-2000s, and then a 180-degree shift suddenly happened towards the end user’s experience. Karim hit the nail on the head with the topic of customer care and laid the foundation for everything we’ve achieved.

 

B2X Blog: Can you name a few milestones?

 

Rainer Koppitz: An important first step was certainly the development of a broader customer base. B2X started with BenQ-Siemens as its only customer, but then Motorola (now Lenovo) and Sony Ericsson (now Sony Mobile) were added – and both Sony Mobile and Lenovo are still our loyal customers, by the way. As a result, a global service network emerged, which in turn enabled B2X to offer a very attractive solution to other customers. Today, we have expanded this network into a digitally connected customer care ecosystem and are the leading provider of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) in after-sales services.

 

B2X Blog: What makes B2X different from other providers in the market?

 

Rainer Koppitz: On the one hand, we are not geographically limited and can offer a world-class service solution for our customers even in the most remote regions and in complex markets such as Brazil, India, Vietnam or Russia. On the other hand, we cover the entire range of customer care, from online self-help and contact center services to the repair of electronic devices inside and outside of the warranty period. All processes are supported by our SMARTCARE technology platform – each of our customers knows when, where and how one of their users is being helped. We ensure complete transparency and an excellent customer experience. In fact, no other provider in the market can do that.

 

B2X Blog: Can you give us some insights into B2X’s strategy?

 

Rainer Koppitz: Well, it is no real secret that we are heavily investing in our expansion in the rapidly growing IoT market. Gartner expects there to be 14 billion consumer IoT devices by 2020. This is a gigantic market and we are confident that we will be able to secure leadership early in this market segment. Our organization, our processes and our technology platform are well prepared for this market. And in part, we are automatically growing into this market together with our customers. Apple, Xiaomi or Samsung no longer just provide smartphones, but offer a wide range of connected devices – from smartwatches to networked fridges. In addition, there are a number of special providers in virtual reality, drones, wearables and smart home automation. All of these are very, very exciting target customers for us.

 

B2X Blog: What is your B2X highlight in this anniversary year 2017?

 

Rainer Koppitz: I am very proud of our entire team. Several months ago, we implemented a huge customer project with Microsoft. Our entire team worked day and night to complete everything in a relatively tight time frame. I am extremely grateful for all of this. Furthermore, we have recently been recognized by the Financial Times as one of the fastest growing companies in Europe. What more could you want?

 

Summary: B2X is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year under the motto “10 Years of Innovation” and can look back on an impressive growth story. Founded in 2007 as a startup from a consulting project, today B2X is one of the leading providers of customer care solutions with more than 1,000 employees and a global presence in 140 countries. Many of the world’s leading smartphone and IoT brands rely on B2X, including Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Xiaomi. Follow B2X on LinkedIn or Twitter!

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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Spotlight on Russia: Growth Champion With Demanding Smartphone Users and New Perspectives in Customer Care

Alexander Dmitrin and Gennady Morozov

  ᅠ

In our recent global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017, we found a feature that makes Russia stand out when comparing it to other markets. As in hardly any other country, smartphone users emphasize the importance of good customer service. This may be because good service is not always the norm. People have to wait up to 25 days for their device if it needs to be repaired. There is still a lot to do, and for ambitious smartphone and IoT brands, there are tremendous opportunities in the customer care area to help differentiate themselves from competitors.

 

 

When people in Moscow eat breakfast, those in East Siberia are going to sleep. With only eight inhabitants per square kilometer, Russia is the most geographically demanding country in the world. This is not an easy challenge for an industry such as telecommunications, which especially focuses on network coverage and, if possible, reaching every person. However, the Russian mobile industry has developed splendidly in recent years. Of the nearly 140 million inhabitants, 54.7% are now using smartphones. Russia is therefore clearly ahead of the global growth champions Brazil and India, which we closely examined in our previous blog posts.

 

Russian Smartphone Market Is Growing Stronger Than All European Markets

 

After a small weak phase, the Russian smartphone market again gained momentum in growth dynamics. “After a buying spree at the end of 2014, as consumers rushed out to buy expensive smartphones before the prices rose in rubles as the national currency went into free fall, there was a very quiet market in 2015. In 2016, the market regained some of its usual tempo and the transition towards smartphones resumed”, said Simon Baker, analyst at IDC for mobile markets in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

 

With more than 30 million smartphones sold and growth of just under 9 percent, Russia is clearly ahead of all European markets, many of which tend to stagnate or even shrink. For the global market leaders Samsung and Apple, Russia has long been the focus. Chinese providers such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE have also secured their place among the country’s leading smartphone brands.

 

Budget Smartphones Dominate, but Customer Requirements Are Growing

 

Russia’s users know very well by now what they are ready to spend their money on when purchasing their next smartphone. While premium models have been highly successful in the past few years, the trend towards budget models offering all key features at a fair price is growing stronger. According to our study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017, 47 percent do not want to spend more than $250 on their next smartphone. IDC found even more astonishing results, namely that about half of the current smartphone demand is for models with a selling price of under $100.

 

At the same time, customer expectations are high. Russia’s smartphone users expect a lot from their smartphone without spending much money, and above all demand reliable customer care. To have this, they would even be willing to spend more. However, mobile brands would have to significantly improve their service. People find a repair time of 72 hours acceptable, yet the actual repair time in Russia can be up to 25 days. This is rather unacceptable, considering 56 percent of Millennials spend more than three hours and 27 percent spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones. 65 percent of Russian smartphone users would not go without their mobile companion even if they were offered a 10 percent salary increase for a month.

 

Customer Satisfaction Through Competence, Transparency and Speed

 

The factors determining the satisfaction level of smartphone users in customer care are not surprising. The list is topped by the service staff’s commitment. Only those who give their mobile companion to a conscientious, experienced service expert for a repair will feel well cared for. Second on the list is the simplicity and transparency of the entire service process, followed by the speed of the service. All of these are not surprising customer expectations, and for smartphone brands that focus on improving these aspects, chances are high to gain a market share in the challenging, yet exciting, Russian market.

 

Summary: With 80 million smartphone users, Russia is easily surpassing its European neighbor markets. Movement in the market has come again after a period of stagnation. Although people tend to favor more affordable smartphone models, providers who focus on competence and speed in customer service have a good chance of winning new customers. B2X has been working in Russia for many years and cooperates with leading mobile brands. Write to us and do not forget to follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Alexander Dmitrin is Account Executive, Gennady Morozov is Director Partner Management at B2X Russia.

 

 

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Spotlight on India: Smartphone Addiction Gives Mobile Industry Annual Growth Rates of up to 30 Percent

Maximilian Grabmayr and Melville Fernandes

 

 

With an expected increase of mobile subscribers by more than 50 percent until 2020, India is the global growth champion. The country’s smartphone penetration is at a low 22 percent level and there’s massive room for development. Added to this is an endless enthusiasm for the mobile companions. People in India love their smartphones and literally cannot live without them. 92 percent have their device on them day and night.

 

 

India is on its way to becoming the most populated country on earth. It was only recently that an academic attracted attention by declaring India to be the country with the most residents. Of the 1.3 billion people living in India, just under half have a mobile connection, which, when looking at the percentage, doesn’t sound like very much. However, the absolute numbers do impress. Back in 2015, the GSMA counted 616 million mobile subscribers on the subcontinent. This made India already the second-largest mobile market behind China and ahead of the US.

 

India Is the Fastest Growing Smartphone Market in the World

 

It is this growth perspective that will make India the most exciting global market in the coming years. 330 million new mobile users are expected by 2020, meaning India would have just under 1 billion subscribers. The backlog in the smartphone sector is particularly huge, which, in turn, translates to 1:1 growth opportunities for the mobile industry. Just 22 percent of the population are currently in possession of a smartphone. However, the mobile companions are rapidly capturing the nation. While growth in established markets is expected to be in the low single-digit percentage range, smartphone sales in India are expected to grow by as much as 30 percent annually. India is now officially the fastest growing smartphone market in the world.

 

Smartphone dependency is growing as smartphone penetration increases. Our Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 global study which we recently carried out, showed that people in India, like in hardly any other country, are addicted to their mobile devices. 29 percent of Indian Millennials spend more than five hours a day on their smartphone and 31 percent check it more than 100 times a day. 92 percent have their smartphones on them both day and night.

 

For Many Indians, the Smartphone Is the Only Interface to the Digital World

 

Messaging, social media, online shopping – unlike in many western markets, the smartphone as a mobile all-rounder is the only access to the digital world for many. 60 percent of Internet users had their first online experience while using their smartphone. For a long time, India has been a market in which providers gained share at low price points, but our study shows a differentiated picture. While 64 percent spent less than $100 for their current device, less than 2 percent would spend this little on their next smartphone. There is a booming demand in the mid-range segment with smartphones offering all the latest features and functions combined with neat design and a brand appeal that attracts a younger urban generation.

 

In addition to this, there is the growing enthusiasm for new IoT devices especially among the urban population. From virtual reality headsets to the transformation of your own home into a smart home, people who already got used to technology want to connect everything in their lives. Dependence on technology will continue to rise with the arrival of consumer IoT devices. This is accompanied by a development that we observe also in other markets: The more people use their devices, the greater the need for seamless customer care.

 

Personal Customer Care in the Shop Ranks High on the Popularity Scale

 

Although digital transformation is quickly advancing, people in India prefer traditional service channels. Walk-in service centers are the first port of call when a device doesn’t work. Our own experience confirms this: We are investing heavily in the Indian market and operate one of the most advanced customer care ecosystems in the country with 240 walk-in service centers. In these we offer personal support and fast repairs on behalf of brands such as Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nubia. Our new video will give you a hands-on impression.

 

Yet from the mobile brands’ point of view, India is a demanding customer care market because most people cannot do without their smartphone. 35 percent would rather give up their favourite food for a year than give up their smartphone, and 8 percent would even be willing to go to jail. If a repair is needed, Indian smartphone users expect quick help. Consumers we surveyed deemed a waiting time of 48 hours acceptable. In reality, repairs can still take up to 20 days, meaning there is still a lot to do in one of the most exciting smartphone markets in the world.

 

Summary: For global tech giants such as Apple and Samsung and for challenger brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nubia, India is the most exciting smartphone market. Growth rates in the double-digit range and a population that is addicted to smartphones promise positive development in the long run. In addition, there is an increasing demand for consumer IoT devices, which gives further boost to digitalisation. For us at B2X, India is one of the most important markets ever – write to us and follow us on LinkedIn!

 

Maximilian Grabmayr is CEO India and Melville Fernandes is COO India at B2X.

 

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Spotlight on Brazil: Rapidly Increasing Smartphone Prevalence and Tech Obsessed Users Promise Enormous Market Potential

Rodrigo Angel

 

 

Smartphone First is the life motto of many in Brazil. Like in hardly any other country, smartphone users are not only dependent on their mobile companions, they are literally obsessed with them. Our study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 has shown that 90 percent of Brazilian smartphone users have their device with them round the clock. 40 percent of Millennials spend more than 5 hours a day on their smartphones.

 

 

With a projected plus of more than 50 percent in mobile Internet connections by 2020, Latin America is one of the fastest growing smartphone and IoT markets worldwide. This is only logical, since there is still plenty of room for growth with a smartphone penetration of just over 50 percent. In a recently published report, from which the figures come, the GSM Association estimates that over 260 million smartphones will be sold in the region by the end of the decade. Brazil is likely to remain the frontrunner, where smartphone penetration is to reach nearly 80 percent by 2020.

 

Latin America Is Playing in the Smartphone Champions League

 

Latin American markets such as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru are emerging as leading smartphone and IoT nations and are in no way behind established mobile markets in Asia, Europe and North America. In fact, the opposite is true. Our global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017, in which we carefully examined Brazil alongside Germany, India, Russia and the US, shows that people are literally crazy about their mobile companions.

 

While a global average of 25 percent of Millennials spending more than five hours a day on their smartphones, in Brazil it is a whopping 40 percent, making the Brazilian smartphone community the undisputed leader in the global market. Even 27 percent of the baby boomer generation, which is much less tech-savvy, uses their smartphone for more than 5 hours a day. 56 percent of Millennials check their smartphone more than 50 times a day, and 25 percent check it even more than 100 times. It is hardly surprising that Brazilians would rather go without their car, sex, family, friends and pets than being without their smartphone for a week.

 

Repair Time of 22 Days Spoils the Good Smartphone Mood

 

The importance of customer care is growing with increased dependency on smartphones. 35 percent feel lost without their smartphone, 29 percent feel frustrated and 20 percent feel stressed. If a device feature stops working or if a smartphone breaks completely, quick help is needed. This is the area where the Brazilian smartphone industry has a lot of catching up to do. If a repair is necessary, a processing time of around 72 hours will be accepted by most people, though that is extremely moderate, considering that excellent customer care should solve a problem within just a few hours. The actual average processing time for repairs in Brazil, however, is 22 days! Smartphone brands that focus on improving this aspect have good chances of winning market share in the fast-growing Brazilian mobile market.

 

Furthermore, this strategy could pay off because the respondents in our study said they wanted to spend much more on their next smartphone model. While only 4 percent spent more than $500 on their current device, 27 percent plan to pay that much for their next model. Contrary to many saturated markets, keeping up with the latest trends is an important driver of smartphone demand in Brazil. The brand image and possession of the latest model are the main motivators to purchase a new smartphone.

 

Global Rise of IoT Devices Is Also Unstoppable in Brazil

 

In addition to the continually growing smartphone market, the demand for IoT devices is surging. Here are some of the sample figures from our study: While 6 percent of Brazilians currently have a drone, 44 percent want one in the near future (+680 percent). 8 percent own devices in the area of smart home automation, in the future this could be 49 percent (+530 percent). Further IoT growth categories: Smart security systems with up to +400%, fitness trackers with +380% and virtual reality headsets with a growth potential of +370%. The signs for the smartphone and IoT industry in Brazil are quite good.

 

Summary: Latin America is one of the world’s largest mobile markets with more than 400 million mobile phone users. With a penetration rate of just 65 percent, the growth potential is still enormous. At the same time, people are crazy about their smartphones and new consumer IoT devices. Manufacturers who deal with Latin America’s specific circumstances will experience flourishing demand. B2X has been active in markets such as Brazil, Mexico or Columbia for many years and works with many of the leading mobile brands. Write to us and do not forget to follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Rodrigo Angel is Head of Operations Americas at B2X.

 

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When Smartphones and IoT Devices Break, Superior Customer Care Can Save the Brand Image

Kimberly Meyer

  

The results of our global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 show that we can no longer live our everyday lives without our mobile companions. Many people would rather go without family, friends and sex than be apart from their smartphone for a week. If a device breaks, fast and seamless help is needed. Customer care has the greatest impact on people’s satisfaction with their device – a huge opportunity for mobile and IoT brands that want to differentiate themselves through excellent service in an increasingly competitive market.

 

 

The smartphone’s display smashes, the touchscreen doesn’t respond, the software freezes or the device cannot be turned on at all. The problems that can occur when using a smartphone are numerous and can make users despair. 25 percent of all Millennials spend more than five hours on their mobile phones daily; in India it is almost 30 percent and in Brazil even as high as 40 percent. It is easy to see how users panic when their smartphone breaks.

 

Repair Speed Way Below Customer Expectations

 

Service and repair must be quick but many smartphone brands fail to meet their customers’ expectations. On a global average, people find a processing time of two to three days quite acceptable for a device repair. Yet, according to our study, the actual repair time is two to three weeks. Considering that up to three days waiting time is just considered “acceptable”, excellent customer service should solve a problem in 24 hours or less. For many, the smartphone has become the remote control of their daily lives – they can’t do without it for more than a day.

 

In addition to the speed of repair, two other factors play a key role for customer care satisfaction. People expect competent staff providing expert advice. This is accompanied by the third aspect, one which is gaining relevance in connection with the increasing technical complexity of smartphones and IoT devices. Customers expect precise information about what happens to their device during the repair process. Which parts have been replaced? Has the software been updated? Have any changes been made to the settings? Such information is important, especially for customers who use their smartphones to control their home entertainment or home automation system. Changes to the device during the repair process can have a significant effect on usage afterwards.

 

Excellent Customer Care is an Effective Competitive Advantage

 

With the growing emotional bond between people and their smartphones, customer care is becoming increasingly significant as the most important influencing factor for satisfaction with a smartphone brand. Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer, Director of the Institute for Marketing at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, confirms: “Smartphone brands that understand the value of customer care have a real competitive advantage. There is no better way to differentiate a brand than making customer service a top priority.”

 

Quick and easy access to customer care continues to develop into one of the most important differentiation features in the global smartphone providers’ battle for customer loyalty. However, contrary to our expectations, people prefer a very classical service experience. Our study showed that the shop where they bought the smartphone is the most popular option when service is needed. Support via email is the second, online support the third preferred service option. Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer comments: “When it comes to customer care, most people still prefer to go to a store and talk with a service agent face to face – a complete contradiction in a world where most things happen online.”

 

Dependency Increases with IoT Connectivity and High-end Smartphones

 

Customer expectations regarding speed and quality in customer care are increasing exponentially. The trend towards consumer IoT devices is accelerating with growth rates in the three-digit percentage range. The increasing connectivity with virtual reality headsets, drones or smart home automation and smart security solutions leads to an ever-growing dependency. At the same time, the trend towards more expensive smartphones is emerging. Taken together, mobile and IoT brands face new challenges in customer care. However, whoever acts now can turn customer care into a sustainable competitive advantage that will be hard to copy.

 

Summary: Our global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 confirms how obsessed people are with their smartphones and IoT devices. The importance of excellent customer care increases in this context. People rely more than ever on their devices and expect fast and competent help if a problem occurs. For smartphone and IoT manufacturers, excellent customer care is one of the most effective strategies to strengthen their brand.

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

 

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Connected Everywhere, Connected Everything: 14 Billion Consumer IoT Devices Further Increase Dependency on Technology

Kimberly Meyer

  ᅠ

The IoT market is growing at an unstoppable rate. People are getting drones, buying virtual reality headsets and converting their homes into smart homes. Not long ago, the greatest potential for the Internet of Things was seen especially in the industrial sector but the market has recently turned to focus on consumers. IoT is becoming mainstream and captures our hearts and minds: People want to connect everything in their lives.

 

 

The IoT market is not just growing; it is literally multiplying every year. While around 5 billion networked electronic devices are currently in use, Gartner says that this figure is expected to reach 14 billion by 2020. At the same time, analysts are coming up with new IoT forecasts every day – the rate of innovation is on the rise and in the end it could result in even more networked devices connecting every aspect of our daily lives.

 

Consumer IoT Market Surpasses Smartphone Market by More Than Double

 

You can get a feel for the enormous dimensions of the consumer IoT market by relating the figures to a type of device that is already well-known to us today, namely the smartphone. There should be around 6 billion of these worldwide by 2020. Yet, the IoT market surpasses the absolutely huge smartphone market by more than double. After many years of hype and mainly theoretical promises from the tech industry, IoT applications are emerging that offer consumers noticeable added value. Connected monitoring systems for the home and garden increase the feeling of security; virtual reality glasses offer an unprecedented entertainment experience; drones record the downhill ride in deep snow or a sailing trip around the Atlantic: IoT is finally bound for the mass market.

 

Former IoT Niche Products Turn into Applications for the Mass Market

 

The results of our new global study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017 confirm that the purchase of IoT devices is growing in the triple-digit percentage range in some cases. The largest growth potential is recorded as up to 250 percent for virtual reality glasses and up to 500 percent for drones, followed by smart home automation with a growth potential of 330 percent and smart security systems with a potential of 275 percent. “People want to connect everything in their lives. They want to automate their home, experience virtual reality and use smart digital assistants. And it’s all happening now,” comments Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess, Director of the Institute for Information Systems and New Media at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich that conducted the study in cooperation with B2X.

 

It may be surprising that rather specialized IoT device types such as drones are high on the consumer popularity scale. Until recently, drones were mainly used in the industrial field such as for professional safety applications or in scientific research. However, since China’s tech industry invested heavily in the consumerization of key features, brands like DJI, Yuneec and Zerotech remain no longer unknown to consumers. This trend can be applied to the entire IoT industry since services suitable for the masses are coming from former niche applications such as smart home and virtual reality, leading to an exploding demand for connected devices.

 

Smartphone as the Remote Control to People’s Personal IoT Networks

 

This is accompanied by the trend towards higher-quality smartphones. Linking to connected IoT devices and demanding applications require more computing power because the smartphone is being used increasingly as the remote control to people’s personal IoT networks. The assumption is that although cheap smartphone models may be suitable for calling, messaging and mobile Internet, they quickly reach their limits for more complex IoT solutions. So it is not surprising that nearly 10 percent of global consumers are already planning to spend more than $750 on their next smartphone. 26 percent plan to spend at least $500 while just 9 percent spent that much on their current device. People are prepared to invest more, worldwide and in a universally connected everyday life with a wide range of applications and with the smartphone as the heart and brain of their IoT network.

 

Summary: With 14 billion IoT devices and 6 billion smartphones, universal connectivity will eventually affect every moment of our everyday life. Many IoT applications, which until recently were niche, are bound for the mass market. You can read about the impact of this development on our daily lives in our current study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017. All results, exciting video interviews with B2X CEO Rainer Koppitz, Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess from the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, as well as comprehensive Infographics for free download can be found on our micro-page.

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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Remote Control to People’s Lives with Emotional Attachment: Global Study Provides New Insights into Smartphone Obsession

Kimberly Meyer

  ᅠ

A week without a smartphone? For many people this is so unimaginable that they would rather give up their family and friends than their mobile companions. Smartphones are interwoven with a large part of our everyday lives. Life events simply don’t happen without it. In our new global study, we interviewed more than 2,600 people in Brazil, Germany, India, Russia and the United States about their relationship to their smartphone – with remarkable results.

 

 

Working while travelling, measuring our pulse, opening the front door, paying in a restaurant and of course, using the mobile Internet: Never before have we integrated a technical device into our everyday lives as deeply as the smartphone. When Apple presented its first iPhone model almost exactly ten years ago, we could only guess what the huge potential of the mobile all-rounder would be. The smartphone, previously referred to as a pocked computer, only had a niche existence for a few nerds until then.

 

Smartphone Has Become the Remote Control of Our Lives

 

With millions of apps, the almost perfect merging together of software and hardware, as well as high-speed Internet connectivity, the smartphone has become what it is today, namely the remote control of our lives. It is only logical that people develop an emotional relationship with their mobile companion. Without their smartphone, many feel frustrated (27%), lost (26%), stressed (19%) or sad (16%). This was the result of our new study Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017 published by B2X in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess from Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich.

 

But what is the origin of our deep relationship to a technical device like the smartphone? Michael Lynch approached this question in an exciting article for the Guardian. Due to its immediate availability and easy handling, the smartphone has developed into a natural extension of ourselves. According to Lynch, we can go even further: We ourselves actually are our smartphone because we continuously feed it with our personal ideas and deepest longings.

 

Global Smartphone Use Reveals Obsessive Traits

 

Our study shows what is really meant by this: A quarter of Millennials check their smartphones more than 100 times a day. About half check their phone at least 50 times a day. Added up, every fourth Millennial spends more than five hours on their smartphone, which corresponds to about a third of the time we are awake. Even 16% of the two generations older baby boomers, which had to become familiar with technical innovations such as the smartphone as digital immigrants, check their smartphone more than 50 times a day.

 

Remaining with the image of the smartphone as an extension of ourselves, we found that 85% always have their smartphone ready at hand and more than a quarter always have it on them, even at night. On the one hand, this result is surprising, however, it aligns seamlessly with another finding. 57% of smartphone users are less patient and expect an immediate response from their friends and family, or at least a response within a few minutes.

 

Smartphones More Important Than Family, Friends and Sex

 

According to IHS, 6 billion smartphones will be in use by 2020. Yet, our study did not confirm the widespread perception that the smartphone boom is continuing in emerging markets at a low price segment. The trend is going towards high-quality smartphones. Nearly 10% of consumers plan to spend more than $750 on their next smartphone. 26% plan to spend at least $500.

 

With increasing spending on smartphones, emotional attachment and perceived dependency growing. Fewer and fewer people are willing to separate from their mobile companions. They would rather give up families, friends and sex instead of having to say goodbye to their smartphone for a week. 74% would not even given up their smartphone for a month in exchange for a day with one of their favorite celebrities. 4% would even go to prison for a month instead of giving up their smartphone for a year. Smartphones and human beings are a sacred alliance that seemingly nothing can separate.

 

Summary: Since its reinvention ten years ago, the smartphone has become an integral part of our lives. Our global Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends 2017 study shows how obsessed people are with their device with many spending 5 hours or more on it every day. The Executive Summary of the study results, video interviews with B2X CEO Rainer Koppitz, Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer and Prof. Dr. Thomas Hess from Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, as well as Infographics with global and country-specific statistics for Germany, India and the US can be found on our new micro-page.

 

Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.

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Steep Growth Curve and Unrivalled Market Leadership: How China’s Drone Manufacturers Have Become World Champions

Flecher Kong

  ᅠ

Drones have quietly developed into one of the most exciting growth markets in the consumer IoT market. For a long time, drones were a niche market and apart from for industrial usage, hardly anyone trusted the high-tech flying objects. However, China’s flagship brands DJI, Yuneec and Zerotech have consistently slimmed down the devices and made them more consumer-friendly. Now the drones industry is experiencing growth rates in the high double-digit range.

 

 

The share of Chinese manufacturers in the world market for consumer IoT devices could reach 95 percent in just a few years from now. In our last blog report we wrote about the impressive development of China’s IoT industry. What is still a forecast for the overall IoT market has long been implemented in the drone sub-segment. Manufacturers like DJI, Yuneec and Zerotech may not be as well known worldwide as China’s smartphone brands Xiaomi, OnePlus or Nubia, however its market leadership can hardly be shaken.

 

Increasing Growth Rate in Drones Market Thanks to Consumerization

 

According to Gartner, 14 billion electronic connected devices will be in use in 2020. With an annual sales volume in the single-digit million range, the drones segment is currently one of the smaller segments in the global market for consumer IoT devices. However, the prospects are promising: Growth rates in the high double-digit percent range are a safe bet and a further increase in growth rate is likely. This is mainly due to the impressive turnaround that Chinese drones have accomplished. High-tech flying objects were not just invented yesterday. For example, Zerotech can look back on 10 years of experience in the development of unmanned flying machines. However, until recently, the focus of the drones industry was on industrial use such as surveying, security applications, professional film recordings, the agricultural sector or scientific research. The starting prices were correspondingly high and only a small number of private customers bought one.

 

Funny enough, it was a European manufacturer who was convinced that the drone market had bigger potential than the niche market of industrial applications. With the presentation of the French supplier Parrot’s AR model at the Consumer Electrics Show in 2010 in Las Vegas, it became clear that unmanned flying objects have got what it takes to become a mass market. Inspired by the idea of developing drones for private use, China’s tech industry has buckled down and invested in flight control, mechanics and camera technology. While not even 200 patents a year were registered ten years ago, it is now around 2,000. Today, providers such as DJI, Yuneec and Zerotech are undisputedly dominating the global drones market.

 

Customer Care Becomes Key Differentiator for Drone Brands

 

However, competition within China’s drone elite is growing. Almost all products are technically sophisticated, features and functions of the different models are more and more similar and the pricing is also alike. Providers like Zerotech are trying to distinguish themselves from their competitors with new model variants like the latest drone model “Dobby” which fits in your pocket. All providers are also working to improve their software to control drones by an app. It is a development that we already recognize from smartphones: Once a new tech device has established itself in the market and the hardware is sophisticated, providers concentrate on the customer’s overall experience, which goes beyond the actual product.

 

In this context, the establishment of extensive customer care offers could easily be the next logical step. Drones are rather delicate and complex high-tech devices that are exposed to harsh conditions when used, whether it’s recording snowboarding in deep snow or a sailing trip on the Atlantic. Even if drones are robust, problems cannot be avoided in harsh conditions. Quick help is needed when users have software questions or need hardware repair. This is a huge challenge for many Chinese manufacturers that are just entering global markets and are rarely large or experienced enough to operate their own service network. This will create new partnerships to build global customer care ecosystems that will guarantee users quick and trouble-free access to service and support.

 

Summary: Drones are considered one of the best bets in the market for consumer IoT devices. Chinese suppliers such as DJI, Yuneec and Zerotech are capitalizing not only on their own home market, but also the North American and European markets. At B2X, we recently entered a new after sales partnership with Zerotech. We offer customer care services in the US during and after the warranty on behalf of the drone provider. For further information on this exciting project, please contact us today and don’t forget to follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Flecher Kong is Senior Account Manager at B2X.

Topic Search

Top Posts

  • 14 Billion Consumer IoT Devices by 2020: 4 Highlights You Shouldn’t Miss at the Mobile World Congress 2017
  • “Device Mesh” – How Multi-Device Usage Changes The Customer Experience
  • Managing Customer Care in Emerging Markets
  • Don’t delight me, just solve my problem
  • Who’s hardest on their smart phones? Tales and trends from the customer care trenches.

Blog

Virtual Reality Made in China: How 200 Startups Are Preparing for the Explosively Growing Billion-Dollar VR and AR Market

Chen Liang

  ᅠ

Virtual reality and augmented reality are considered IoT market sectors with tremendous growth potential. However, mainstream products and applications are lacking so far. It’s precisely this gap between wish and reality that the Chinese tech industry wants to fill. More than 200 startups are preparing to conquer the global virtual reality market with cool innovations.

 

 

Merely 100 million virtual reality devices were distributed worldwide last year – not much compared to the 1.5 billion smartphones sold. Still, the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) market is considered one of the hottest bets in the Consumer IoT market. The current range of hardware options is fairly straightforward: Facebook, HTC, Samsung and Sony divide the market for headsets among themselves. Smaller suppliers and startups hardly play a role.

 

The VR Market Is Predicted to Reach 120 Billion Dollars in Sales by 2020

 

But if things go according to plan for the Chinese tech industry, this is likely to change soon. The People’s Republic wants to play a part in the global VR and AR market and is positioning its economy accordingly. In our last blog post, we already touched on the momentum with which young startups and established brands are advancing tech innovations. By 2020, the VR market is expected to grow to a sales volume of 120 billion US dollars – a sector that’s simply too attractive to leave in the hands of American, Korean and Taiwanese competitors.

 

As with the smartphone sector, China is likely to benefit from the rapidly growing tech affinity of its own population. Customers virtually scramble to get ahold of the latest VR gadgets like in hardly any other country. The online giants Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are driving demand through better and more exciting VR applications. At the same time, the companies are investing in VR startups rather than directly competing with the domestic hardware industry. After all, Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi also have stakes in the VR market, and a direct exchange of blows could do the market more harm than good, so the reasoning of the Internet giants. 

 

200 Startups Are Working on VR Innovations Made in China

 

It’s a plan that could work. Bloomberg recently released some breathtaking figures: The Chinese VR market is expected to grow by a factor of 36 by 2020 and then reach a sales volume of 8.5 billion dollars. More than 200 startups are now working on VR innovations made in China. Even the Chinese government knows what’s at stake and has already identified practicable market sectors. According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, video and game applications are the first step towards a mainstream VR market. Corresponding state programs to promote innovation and growth are underway.

 

But not just China’s Internet giants and government are helping set Chinese suppliers up for success. The global venture capital fund 500 Startups, for example, has also recognized the potential of the Chinese tech industry and directly invested in several VR startups. The goal is to help Chinese suppliers enter the US market, says 500 Startups Partner Edith Yeung.

 

Innovation, Not Imitation, Is Dominating the Startup Agenda

 

Those who believe that established VR companies, such as Facebook with Oculus Rift or HTC with the Vive headset, are a benchmark for the Chinese startup community will quickly discover otherwise: China’s VR specialists go one step further and strive for genuine innovations that enable them to take on a pioneering role in the global VR market. Dlodlo is one such company. With Dlodlo V1, the startup is offering one of the world’s first VR products that resembles a normal pair of glasses and has little to do with the chunky headsets of the competition.

 

Another user-oriented approach is being pursued by Pico. While the appearance of the company’s VR headset is somewhat reminiscent of known products, Pico’s device has been slimmed down impressively. Redundant hardware components have been trimmed away, giving Pico the claim of offering one of the world’s lightest VR headsets. It remains to be seen how established competitors will respond to China’s latest VR innovations. What’s clear is that the days when Chinese companies imitated innovations are over. The rapidly growing IoT market is the new playing field on which China intends to make global tech history.

 

Summary: Within three years, more than 8 billion dollars in sales are expected in the Chinese VR market alone. Strong demand in its own country is benefitting China’s tech industry. Because customers are constantly looking for new features and designs, the pace of innovation is speeding up. This could turn the VR market into an important springboard for China’s tech suppliers to enter the global market for Consumer IoT devices. Which Chinese VR companies are among your favorites? Contact us today and don’t forget to follow B2X on LinkedIn!

 

Chen Liang is Manager Global Accounts at B2X.

Topic Search

Top Posts

  • 14 Billion Consumer IoT Devices by 2020: 4 Highlights You Shouldn’t Miss at the Mobile World Congress 2017
  • “Device Mesh” – How Multi-Device Usage Changes The Customer Experience
  • Managing Customer Care in Emerging Markets
  • Don’t delight me, just solve my problem
  • Who’s hardest on their smart phones? Tales and trends from the customer care trenches.

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