iphone-6Accenture is expecting a smartphone sales increase in 2017, marking a rebound after reaching a three-year low in 2016. Lower prices, improved security, new features and overall performance improvements, along with product refresh cycles will boost 2017 smartphone sales, Accenture found after surveying 26,000 consumers in 26 countries.

More than half of those surveyed (54%) said they intend to buy a smartphone in the coming 12 months, up from 48 percent a year ago. Smartphone purchase intent in the U.S. was 52 percent, up from 38 percent a year ago.

The desire to take advantage of new smartphone features was the single largest motivating factor, with 51 percent of survey respondents citing it as compared to 41 percent last year, according to Accenture’s new Dynamic Digital Consumers report.

Smartphone Sales Increase Drivers
Dissatisfaction with the performance of their current smartphones was another oft cited factor: 45 percent said it was the motivation for their plans to purchase a new smartphone in the coming 12 months, up from 33 percent a year ago.

“Improved features and falling prices are key reasons consumers around the world are signaling a desire to buy new smartphones,” commented David Sovie, global managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech business.

“Growing acceptance of services powered by artificial intelligence, such as voice assistants, is also fueling this market upswing. 2017 will be the year when artificial intelligence goes mainstream in consumer devices.”

Respondents also indicated they’re interested in making use of other AI-driven connected devices and personalized services. A majority (60%) said they are interested in personal health assistants, smart trip assistants (59%) and entertainment advisors (51%).

Just 14 percent of respondents said they plan to buy a wearable fitness watch or smart watch in the coming 12 months, roughly the same percentage that said so last year.

High prices and security threats are holding consumers back from purchasing emerging new types of wireless devices, however, Accenture points out.

Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) said they are concerned about their personal financial data being compromised when they shop online, for example. Eighty-nine percent said they were concerned that companies would be able to access their personal financial information without authorization.

“The ‘insecurity of things’ is a major industry challenge,” Sovie commented. “There are widespread consumer concerns about the privacy of their personal data being stolen or compromised. And relative to the value delivered, prices of these connected devices remain too high.

“Market momentum for these devices will stall unless the industry overcomes these obstacles. If that happens, market demand could accelerate quickly.”

When it comes to personal data security, survey respondents indicated that they trust smartphone manufacturers more than some other potential suppliers. But trust level was just slightly higher than for ISPs, telecom providers, banks or search engine companies.

Thirty-seven percent said they trust device manufacturers, while 36 percent said they trust telecom providers with their data. The latter is down from 42 percent last year, while the former is up from 31 percent.

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