I believe that for the first time in history, emerging markets have surpassed mature markets as the primary engine driving consumer electronics technology consumption. I came to this revelation from research I commissioned on consumer electronics and published as
Accenture's "2010 Consumer Products and Services Usage Survey."
We queried some 16,000 respondents in four emerging markets (China, India, Malaysia and Singapore) and compared the responses to data from four mature markets (France, Germany, Japan and the United States). We found that respondents in the emerging nations are twice as likely as their counterparts in the developed markets to purchase and use consumer technology over the next year. We also found that the emerging countries are more invested in mobile technologies-including applications on each device-than those in mature markets.
The main factor in this paradigm shift is the rapid expansion of the middle class in emerging markets. More than half the world now earns at least a middle-class income. In emerging countries, that income is feeding a hunger for technology that far exceeds that of more gadget-saturated countries such as Japan and the United States.
Further, because these countries are tapping into the market at a later stage of technological development, they are adapting newer, superior versions of smartphones, mobile gadgets and social networking applications. The emerging market as consumer powerhouse is here to stay, and technology companies that wish to prosper in the future must service it well. Potentially billions of dollars in sales are at stake.
A few choice statistics from the survey shed light on this huge market shift. The emerging-market respondents are more than two and a half times more likely to buy a smartphone during the next year than their mature-market counterparts (52 percent vs. 20 percent). They are more than twice as likely to have bought a smartphone in the past year (67 percent vs. 32 percent) and are twice as likely to have bought a computer in the past year (40 percent vs. 20 percent).
The emerging-market respondents are more than twice as likely to have at least occasionally played games on handhelds (58 percent vs. 28 percent) and are nearly twice as likely to have occasionally connected with people on social networks (69 percent vs. 38 percent).