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The One Tech Device Consumers Can’t Live Without

Hint: It ain’t a smartphone

While more than 90 percent of households have a smartphone today, and with apologies to the Mobile World Congress which begins this weekend, cellphones are not the most indispensable tech device for consumers, a new survey shows.

A recent poll commissioned by iQor, a global managed services provider, actually points to the Wi-Fi router as the one CE product that consumers can’t part with for more than a day, pushing smartphones into second place.

According to the company’s “Customer and Product Experience 360 Survey,” two-thirds of U.S. adults (64 percent) said they can’t be without Wi-Fi access for even 24 hours, given the plethora of streaming, gaming, security, telehealth and voice-control services it brings.

And as connected devices continue to proliferate, growing from an estimated 11.1 billion this year to a projected 20.4 billion globally by 2020, according to Gartner, dependence on Wi-Fi routers and smart-home hubs will only intensify, iQor said — creating new opportunities for category leadership.

See: Samsung Intends To Connect Smart Homes With Cars

“The fact that the Wi-Fi-connected smart home is the most important technology consumers don’t want to be without — over the smartphone — is a shift that technology experts and brands must understand and plan for, because this is a relatively new market and consumer adoption is not yet mainstream,” said Autumn Braswell, COO of iQor’s LinQ Integrated Solution.

“Currently,” she continued, “there is no clear brand owning the connected home customer experience. We believe that whoever can help consumers fully realize the potential of the connected home reality — and connect multiple devices for maximum impact, security and efficiency — will emerge as the brand leader five years from now.”

But hurdles to mass connected-home adoption remain, chiefly in the area of IoT security. According to the survey, more than two-thirds of consumers (70 percent) fear that their smart-home devices can be breached by hackers, and 54 percent are afraid of a “cascade effect,” in which one hacked device will cause others within the smart-home ecosystem to fail.

In addition, more than half (58 percent) are concerned by privacy encroachments from device manufacturers who have access to personal data, real-time conversations, voice patterns and search histories.

“Consumer concerns about data privacy and security, including both the unauthorized hacking of devices and theft of device data, consistently rank as one of the leading concerns about connecting devices to the Internet,” noted Brad Russell, connected home research director for Parks Associates. “Companies are working to adopt best practices for IoT data security and management to allay concerns and deliver peace of mind, including more stringent efforts to secure the home network by deep inspection of incoming and outgoing traffic and monitoring of edge devices to alert for anomalous behavior.”

Brands can also offset the cascade effect by educating consumers and retooling product delivery and customer support methods, iQor CEO Hartmut Liebel said.

“Brands need to expand proactive engagement efforts and simplify products to minimize set-up frustration and directly address consumer concerns around privacy and security,” he observed. “The ability to easily operate these connected devices and services, and to readily obtain customer support when needed, will be the crucial factor in adoption.”

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