A study on consumer behavior and the emergence of new
social connections from Best Buy Co., Inc.
Brian Dunn, CEO, Best Buy Co., Inc.
The Shi ing Tech Universe:
Consumers at the Center of Consumer Electronics
Promise of the Connected World
Top 10 Gi /Gadget Trends For Holiday 2010
Our World, Connected:
New Social Connections from Best Buy
The current dynamics of the consumer technology industry are fundamentally and rapidly
changing as innovation is driven by consumers themselves. Basic human needs for comfort,
connection, variety and uniqueness now drive society’s desire for a truly connected world. With
few exceptions, the consumer technology industry continues to seek ways to fully understand
and satisfy this growing demand.
New research commissioned by Best Buy and conducted by e-Rewards reveals that people believe
in the notion of the connected world. They have taken what they’ve experienced over the past two
decades (since technology began to be ubiquitous in our lives) and on their own have redeﬁned
what ”being connected” means. In the process, they have naturally grown dissatisﬁed with some
consumer technologies that actually inhibit their ability to live in a truly connected world. This
has led them to become more knowledgeable, more vocal, and more involved in how and what the
In other words, people have, through the sheer force of their mounting interest in and reliance on
ge ing and staying connected, moved to the center of the consumer electronics world.
People remain, to varying degrees, skeptical about the technology that in so many ways powers
our lives. Even as they acknowledge the great promise of technology, they recognize its limitations.
They remain bewildered by the number of options, the lack of compatibility, the absence of
customer service, and the challenge of new product innovations and introductions.
As Robert Stephens, currently our Chief Technology Oﬃcer and founder of Geek Squad, has
observed, “what’s going to happen and how technology is going to change our lives during the next
10 years is going to make the last 50 look like we were at a standstill.” Human ingenuity, dynamism
and entrepreneurship have brought us to where we are today. We are excited to be a part of where
we go tomorrow – and over the next decade. This study is the start of that journey.
Brian Dunn, CEO, Best Buy Co., Inc
Consumer technology today is driven by More important, people have awakened to the
human desire, not devices. possibilities technology presents and decided they like
what they see. In fact, new research commissioned by
Devices, a er all, merely beep and blink. But desire Best Buy and conducted by e-Rewards1 shows that not
ignites dreams. Desire energizes our imaginations. only do a majority of people rely on technology in their
Desire inspires experience. And perhaps most everyday life (including more than 70 percent of those
important, desire arouses expectations. age 18-24 and almost half of those 55 and older) but
Increasingly, we look to consumer technology not as a that overall almost 85 percent are optimistic about the
collection of devices but as a way to help us match our experiences technology products and services enable.
reality to our desires, to help us meet our expectations. The interest and joy people feel is encouraging them to
become an integral part of what’s coming next in order
to both experience and humanize technology.
As technology blogger Jonathan Harris noted in an
August 2010 post, “Instead of ﬂeeing to the forest, we
must ﬁnd the humanity in the machine and learn to love
85% of consumers say they are it. If we decide the humanity does not yet exist there in
optimistic about the experiences the ways we expect, then we must create it.”
that technology products and
Today people are recognizing that the only way they
services enable can humanize their relationship with technology and
stay connected to the people, information, ideas,
entertainment, services and media they care about
While in the past, as the technological revolution most, is to be smack dab in the center of the consumer
unfolded, we may have looked to technology to show technology universe.
us what we could do, today we look to technology to
help us do what we want to do. To be there, in the center, to generate new ways of ...
This has triggered a fundamental shi in our ... being ... acquiring … connecting
relationship with technology. People have ... communicating ... seeing ...doing
moved from passive users of devices ... experiencing ... creating ... loving
to active drivers of technology and ... gathering ... sharing ... learning ...
innovation. So while consumer competing
technology companies may still ... protesting ... reacting ... inventing
create, manufacture and sell devices,
it is people who have reassessed In other words, to be there, in the center, not
their relationship to what happens on just as a part but the most important part of
the assembly line – declaring through the thrilling evolution in how, why, where, and
their actions, opinions, behaviors, and when we connect with one another. It is a bold, new
a itudes that they are no longer willing to be enslaved partnership that is not merely reﬁning the relationship
by technology. Instead, they want to use technology to between people and the consumer technology industry,
connect with people and ideas, to mesh their lives but redeﬁning it, based on ...
with their desires and expectations. ... mutual participation
... mutual inspiration
... mutual satisfaction. 3
People want to participate, co-create, curate and functions on those devices people are actually using.
collaborate by engaging in the development of And when they use them. And how they use them. And
consumer technology. An August 2010 Forrester why they use them. And where they use them.
report2 notes that more than six out of 10 (61 percent)
online adults want to co-create alongside the industry, And, in turn, they are le ing information
suggesting that industry professionals, “should feel drive innovation.
comfortable proceeding with co-creation strategies,
as chances are good that there are engaged, This reconstituted relationship between people and
interested consumers who are willing to help consumer technology – this partnership that moves
improve your product.” people to the center – is unleashing unprecedented
ingenuity in people and in the consumer technology
This is a new phenomenon, the rapid development of industry.
which has taken many people and, signiﬁcantly, the
consumer electronics industry, by surprise. It’s as if People today are connecting with more people
there’s been a collective “a-ha moment” in which people and more ideas more o en and in more ways for
realized they no longer had to accept, lemming-like, more reasons than ever before possible. Consumer
what industry oﬀers and, simultaneously, industry technology has given people the means by which
acknowledged that what it delivers may not they can fulﬁll their dreams and exceed their
automatically be embraced. expectations. At the same time, it has
inspired people to dream even bigger
It’s not that people are necessarily in What’s happening now is and expect even more.
the labs or doing market research nothing less than a seismic shi in
or writing code. But by their the human experience, literally a new and Our World, Connected delivers
behavior and by their sharing, up-to-the-minute insight and
permanent way of being based on a new
they are continually making it data that suggests this new
and empowering relationship with technology
known to anyone or anything relationship between people and
-one unimpeded by economic ups and downs
that will listen what ma ers consumer technology – what
most to them, what doesn’t and political winds of change. drives it, what it means, what it
ma er at all, what direction -Brian Dunn, CEO, Best Buy Co., Inc promises, what risks it introduces,
their concerns are moving, and and what barriers still need to be
what new options they want explored overcome – oﬀers extraordinary
and addressed. opportunities for industry, the
media, and others to innovate, create, and
In some cases, of course, technology users prosper as never before.
actually are doing the creating. Some of today’s most
socially altering tech advances were ﬁrst developed We are living in truly momentous times.
by everyday people (despite their later status as
visionaries and billionaires) who had a hunch about what
people might want, a great idea on how to turn that
hunch into a function or platform, and the ambition and
smarts to follow through. Facebook, YouTube, Napster
and other content providers that changed the world 80% of consumers 55+ say
as we know it were all created by individuals with deeply
creative brainpower and insight into what they rely on technology in their
people wanted to be able to do but couldn’t. everyday lives
(86% of consumers overall)
Industry and the media are paying a ention like never
before. They’re listening not only to what people say
they want, but to what they do. They’re analyzing
what devices people are buying and scrutinizing what
Only 20 years ago it would have been impossible to no calls to 15 friends looking for advice on a hotel
imagine standing at a bus stop in Chicago at 10 p.m. in Palm Springs, no clipping articles from the
trading “instant messages” with a friend in Kuala newspaper with the intention of mailing them. A few
Lumpur. It would have been impossible to imagine keystrokes or taps on a screen and voila, sharing is
someone in Dubuque “playing” tennis in real time accomplished, connections are made, information is
with a challenger in Dublin using a motion-sensing acquired and relationships are enriched.
device. It would have been impossible to “demand”
a movie on a wireless phone no bigger than a People say the ability to share so eﬀortlessly means
Hershey’s bar. they feel more connected to the people they care
about most. Grandmothers and grandchildren,
We are connected to one another in ways that not husbands and wives (and, in some cases, wives and
too long ago would have been dismissed as science wives, husbands and husbands), moms and kids,
ﬁction or part of a “House of the Future” display at a dads and kids, friends both old and new, teachers
world’s fair, right along with ﬂying cars, teleportation and students.
devices and robots that mix cocktails.
Being connected means being close to other
People understand that today they and the world are human beings.
connected in ways that have transformed society.
There’s no going back. And most people wouldn’t
choose to even if they could. Pre-technology might
as well be pre-history.
The technological revolution also has broadened 79% of consumers say they
the way people think about what being connected
even means. In a research study about service in the will be more dependant on
Connected World conducted by Best Buy in April technology in the future
2010,3 consumers deﬁned connection as far more
interactive and dynamic than merely having access
to friends, family and professional colleagues,
though certainly access was a part of it. Importantly, people add that this new, broadened
deﬁnition of what it means to be connected includes
People say being connected means being able an almost indescribable feeling of comfort. By
to share more information more o en and with being able to keep in touch in so many ways so
more people than ever, including what industry easily, parents worry less about their children, adult
professionals and the media call “content,” children worry less about their elderly parents,
but what everyday people call photos and bosses worry less about their employees, spouses
videos; scrapbooks; advice on products, worry less about one another. Less worry, less stress,
services and destinations; entertainment and an easier time focusing on other things that
recommendations; and, of course, news and are important.
gossip, among an endless list. Added to this, sharing
is easier than ever before, too – no standing in long People also say that being connected today is
lines at the post oﬃce to mail vacation photos, partly deﬁned by the ability to learn about anything
at almost any time and anywhere. made some people concerned that, as one
Watching the Emmys and don’t know survey respondent put it, “we are individuals
who Archie Panjabi is? Type her interacting with our wireless machines,
name into Google and up pop looking like we are together, but we aren’t.”
almost 500,000 citations in .23 This sentiment was echoed by others who
seconds. Writing a term paper on are concerned that “technology will distance
how class and poverty inﬂuenced us emotionally from each other,” that it is
the 18th century British criminal “futuristic, a li le frightening, overwhelming”
justice system? Much of what and that life “becomes exponentially degraded
will be needed can be found online, by service to and reliance on technology.”5
quickly and eﬃciently. And for the
information that’s not yet online, access to These fears ladder up to anxiety over issues
inventories of libraries around the world are available. related to privacy and abuse. Some people
People can get their college degrees online, learn to cook are uneasy about how easily information
online, study foreign languages online, discover new about them is available, and how products and
passions and new ways of doing things online, and surf services they buy, or things in which they’ve
data on virtually any topic of interest. Almost any of this shown interest online, are tracked.
can be accomplished on a variety of devices too, so while
people may want to study at their desks using a computer, No one suggests that concerns about living in
they can also study by calling up information on their a connected world means we should (or even
smart phone while riding the bus to school or access a could) turn back time and return to rotary
spreadsheet while at the airport. phones, brick and mortar stores exclusively
and an era of network television only.
One in three Americans have People want to be connected and want to
used Skype for video or experience the promise of these new ways
of deﬁning what it means to be and feel
phone conversation connected. People want to live in a truly
Some say that the ease with which people can connect Being connected today has moved far beyond
these days not only adds a new dimension to their lives the traditional dictionary deﬁnition to
in terms of information shared and learned, but that encompass the way we live, the technology
the entire experience of sharing – from downloading that is available to us, and the opportunities
vacation pictures to surﬁng YouTube for funny videos that technology presents for creating
to following URLs on Twi er – makes sharing more fun, connections that not only re-deﬁne the
more interesting. word, but re-deﬁne our lives.
The Best Buy data4 also indicates that people take this
new deﬁnition of what it means to be connected to the
next level by not merely passively sharing content but
creating it through blogs, vlogs and podcasts; videos
posted to YouTube or Facebook; photo albums posted
on Shu erﬂy or ﬂickr; personal proﬁles on match.com or 54% of consumers want
Bleetbox, and more. to be able to connect with
Profound shi s in how we lead our lives, especially shi s people from ANY device
that have occurred relatively quickly, as has happened
through the use of consumer technology, always inspire
worries, too. The growth in consumer technology has 7
Consumers at the Center of Consumer Electronics
SHIFTING TECH UNIVERSE
People have begun to experience the possibilities Today people are multitaskers in virtually every
of a connected world and they like how it feels. facet of their lives and, increasingly, platform
agnostic. Through their behaviors they are telling the
In fact, a Pew Research Center survey6 shows that consumer technology industry that despite the many
Americans of all ages (and political ideologies) gadgets and gizmos available, in some signiﬁcant
believe technology companies have the most positive ways it is not doing enough – not creating the right
eﬀect on how things are going in the country today – products, not oﬀering the right services, and not
listening to people’s concerns about ease of use and
... more positive than religion customer service, among other things.
... more positive than universities People want their consumer technology – and
the companies that create, sell and service it – to
... more positive than the federal government. multitask along with them by providing ways to
receive, send, share, comment on, alter and create
content, regardless of device or platform.
People are at a tipping point, with Pew
reporting that almost four out of 10 adults
89% of consumers believe claim to have increased the amount of time they
consumer electronics companies spend online as they come to trust and depend
should use more consumer feed- on their mobile devices more. And it’s not just the
back to inﬂuence innovation increasing availability or reliability of broadband
driving this shi . Instead, more adults are seeing
how an increasingly connected world – one in which
they are more accessible to their families, friends,
Of the top 15 “changes for the be er” that people colleagues and others and vice versa – can beneﬁt
believe, Pew reports 11 are technology related, them and improve their lives. While Pew notes that
including cell phones (in ﬁrst place), online shopping some adults do not “feel the pull of mobility,” it’s clear
(in eighth place) and social networking sites (in than many others feel the pull intensely.
twel h place).
That pull – that shi in human behavior – is pushing
These positive feelings toward technology consumer technology companies in new directions
and the change in everyday behaviors it as people’s usage habits grow and evolve.
enables will continue to drive companies to
develop new and innovative products in order to
satisfy people’s desires and expectations to be a
part of a connected world.
No longer are people willing to be limited by their
technology devices – people want to be able to do
66% of consumers have
more on their cell phones than just talk, more on provided feedback to
their TVs than just sit passively, couch-potato-like, technology retailers or
receiving but not interacting with what’s on, more
with their computers than write e-mail and create
spreadsheets, more on their iPods than just listen 9
to the latest music.
Natural user interface (NUI), for instance, in which This gradual progression – a generational shi – of
devices and services are driven through natural people moving from platform-centric usage to
human movements or gestures that control and platform-agnostic usage suggests that eventually
manipulate experiences and content – as opposed nearly everyone will be less concerned with the
to those movements or gestures that are unique to means by which they watch TV. This will drive
each device or service and have to be learned and innovation in consumer technology products,
relearned with each successive device or service – devices, platforms, retailers and services to take
is one that has been quickly embraced by both the greater advantage of this platform agnosticism.
public and the consumer technology industry. Face- As an example, Flo TV, a unit of Qualcomm,
and voice-recognition, movement sensors and other recently invested about $1 billion in mobile video
“humanistic ways” of interacting with technology distribution, which will send ESPN and MTV, among
are no longer limited to “high-tech secret agents and other channels, to phones.
‘Star Trek,’” notes a January 10, 2010, feature story
on Microso .com.7 “NUI is meant to remove mental Television-viewing habits are not the only behaviors
and physical barriers to technology,” August de los being impacted.
Reyes, principal director of user experience for
Microso Surface, said in the Microso feature “to
make computing feel more intuitive, and to expand
“Power is moving away from the old
the pale e of ways users can experience technology.”
elite in our industry – the editors,
As The New York Times8 pointed out in an article
the chief executives and let’s face
in September, 2010, on the subject, “The next
it, the proprietors. A new genera-
generation of screens might not even need touch.”
tion of media consumers has arisen,
demanding content delivered when
Consumer usage habits – and the way and speed
they want it, how they want it and
with which consumer companies address those
very much as they want it.”
habits – will also change as millennials, Gen Xers, and
baby boomers age (and, inevitably, the next as-yet-
- Rupert Murdoch
unnamed generation grows in inﬂuence).
According to an August 2010 comScore report,9
for instance, while 87 percent of people 65 years or Nielsen data10 indicates that American teens are
older watch TV on their TV sets only, less than half showing consistent pa erns of technology use and
(45 percent) of people aged 18-24 watch TV on TV connectedness, increasingly gravitating to texting
sets exclusively. An almost equal number of those and social networks as their primary lines of digital
in this age group watch TV on a variety of platforms, communication. More than other generations, they
while only 12 percent of those 65 and older do. think alternatives, such as e-mail, as somewhat
Data for those age groups in between the youngest passé – more appropriate for their parents and even
and oldest analyzed in the comScore report (25- to grandparents than for themselves.
34-year-olds, 35- to 49-year-olds and 50- to
64-year-olds) also indicates that the younger Of course, these teens will grow up and be young
people are the more apt they are to be adults and then middle-aged adults and seniors.
platform agnostic, watching television shows Eventually their habits will be everyone’s habits.
on whatever platform is most suited to them
at the moment, which may be a traditional TV What’s more, as technology evolves and
set at home but may also be a smart phone while ensuing generations of young people adopt new
standing in line at the grocery store, a laptop while platforms, products and services sooner and more
waiting for a ﬂight to take oﬀ or an iPad while si ing enthusiastically than their parents, consumer
by the pool. technology companies will be able to use these new
usage habits (or non-usage habits as the case may
be) as direction indicators, showing them how and
where to proceed, what people want – or don’t – and
what may catch on.
Mike Walsh, author of Futuretainment11, points to
another key indication that a shi in habits among
consumer technology users may impact how and
when and where technology companies innovate,
and introduce new and be er products and services.
He notes that despite the poorer resolution quality
of devices such as MP3 players, camera phones and
Web-streamed videos, they’ve all ﬂourished at the
expense of their higher-quality progenitors: CDs, ﬁlm
cameras and DVDs, respectively.
“Clearly,” Walsh writes, “to consumers, utility is a
more powerful incentive than ﬁdelity.”
It may become clear to consumer technology
companies, too, that in a connected world people are
no longer accepting as a given that their preferred
means of interacting with content oﬀers lower-
quality experiences than elsewhere. If companies
respond by bringing high-quality technology to the
products they create, it will be consumers who can
take the credit.
Our world, connected
• User-recommendation site GDGT features more than
17,000 devices and reports “hundreds of thousands”
Myriad other data points exist that all point to of users rating and recommending technology to each
the same thing: shi s in human behaviors, desires other.
and expectations may signiﬁcantly inﬂuence how
all sectors of the consumer electronics industry • Data from the Consumer Electronics Association for
innovate going forward. 200912 indicates that the average number of devices
owned per household had risen to 24, tracking far faster
than growth in number of people per household, suggest-
Moreover, this shi oﬀers all sectors of the ing that individual device usage is multiplying as well.
consumer technology industry opportunities to
lead and build a favorable reputation through • Some analysts have called 2010 the year augmented
cu ing-edge innovation and honest, and transparent reality became a reality, with popular apps such as Layar
and Yelp! Monocle featuring on latest generation smart
interaction with consumers. phones. Layar’s makers reported 1.5 million downloads
of its app as of April 2010.
Finally, and maybe most important, this shi and
the impact of its inﬂuence will further move people
to the center, solidifying their position as dynamic
central players in the future of the consumer
PROMISE OF THE CONNECTED WORLD
Like other profound, life-will-never-be-the-same-again advances – the invention of ﬁre, the ﬁrst wheel, the skinny
soy iced chai tea la e – consumer technology and the promise of a connected world has already altered our
individual, day-to-day lives as deeply and permanently as it has society overall.
No one anywhere – from the teeming streets of Tokyo to the most remote villages in India to the glassy high-rises
along the seafront Corniche in Abu Dhabi to the shrub-lined
suburbs surrounding every American city – is immune from
As technology has slowly and then quickly seeped into our
lives, as broadband speeds increase, as more 4G networks
and natural user interfaces and the devices that take 60% of consumers have
advantage of them both grow in number, the promise of a watched a TV show online
connected world has evolved along with the functions and
diminishing size and he of the devices that house them.
In short, the promise of a connected world is not sacrosanct (like “to love, cherish and obey till death us do part”) but
an evolving promise that, in business-speak, is also easily customizable. Each of us view the promise of a connected
world through the lens of our own lives, experiences and expectations. The promise of a connected world is, in part,
unique to the individual.
For a 17-year-old high school senior in Spokane who has absorbed
technology into his life virtually since the day he was born, the promise of
Despite our individual take on a connected world may be so big and unknowable he can’t wrap his brain
the promise of a connected around it. Yet for his 82-year-old grandmother 3,000 miles away in Boca
world, on a mass scale our Raton who prizes her Sunday evening video chats with him, the promise of
pursuit of, use of and society- a connected world may feel delightfully fulﬁlled.
wide discussion of technology
As more people connect with more people for more reasons, creativity and
suggests that we also hold a anticipation for what’s next and what could be has blossomed. Everyday
common view of this promise. people – not just Harvard geeks and Silicon Valley engineers – are thinking
up ideas, big “what ifs” that will challenge the consumer technology
industry for years to come.
Ultimately, what the promise of a connected world suggests, perhaps, is that we are not alone (or, at least, that we
don’t have to be alone).
The promise of a connected world – our connected world – holds that we are a part of something bigger
than ourselves. It holds that we are part of a web of people and ideas and traditions and concerns
that bring us together – that expand our social and professional circles; that introduce us to people
and cultures and data and insights to which we might not have ever been exposed; that provoke us to
think diﬀerently and act responsibly; that allow us to
unite to hold those in power accountable, to change our
Our world, connected
communities and even the world; that help us feel safe 2009 Forrester data13
and secure and in control of our health and wellness;
that allow us to have both a virtual presence in the real
suggests that people
world and a real presence in the virtual world. plan to continue connect-
Consumer technology itself, of course, hasn’t made any
ing, with 30 million new
promises; it is we who have projected our hopes and homes expected to be
dreams and expectations on technology. connected in the next four
In other words, ultimately, it is we who hold the promise years and an additional
of a connected world. 39 million expected to
purchase HDTVs between
2009 and 2014.
% 87% of consumers 83% of consumers have 65% of those 18-
have paid a bill online, watched user-generated 24 say they want to
with 96% of those 18- content online, and 30% be connected to the
24 having done so have contributed content Internet at all times
TOP 10 GIFT/GADGET TRENDS FOR HOLIDAY 2010
The promise of the connected world isn’t about being The human appetite for new and be er consumer
“on” as much as it is about being “there.” technology that allows people to stay connected
rises year over year, especially during the holiday
There in the moment. season and despite the prevailing economy. As in
previous years, research indicates that both “staples”
There in the conversation. There in the center, exactly – gi categories such as televisions, cameras, and
where people today want to be. MP3 players – as well as those deemed “hot” by
retailers, the media, tech inﬂuencers, celebrities
Holiday 2010 advances this idea by giving people an and others will be in high demand.
extraordinary number of gi options that will allow
them and those with whom they share the holidays Included on the list of the top 10 expected top
new and exciting ways to stay connected. sellers for 2010:
A Best Buy Consumer Insights Unit study in • Gaming products like Kinect for Xbox 360,
September 2010 looked at the 2010 top 10 holiday PlayStation Move and Wii will change the ways that
season technology product categories and found families and friends connect in the living room.
that they include vastly diﬀerent devices with an
incredible array of functions and capabilities. • Internet-connected TVs, BluRay players and set top
boxes will help “Smart TVs” redeﬁne the category.
What many of them have in 3D TV also will drive a lot of buzz.
common, however, is
Holiday 2010 portability, accessibility • Di o for iPads and other tablet PCs that burst onto
Top Trending Tech Gi and wireless capability the scene earlier this year and have continued to
Categories that allows users pique the media’s a ention.
to connect and
Gaming systems share content • Cell phones continue to get scooped up, with
and experiences interest in the iPhone 4 and Droids especially rabid.
and games and
Computing entertainment • Rounding out the top ﬁve, DSLR and point & shoot
Smart Phones and music with cameras are expected to be high on many holiday
Cameras family, friends, shopping lists.
MP3 players lovers, colleagues,
e-readers people on the other Despite the reality of these and other devices, they
BluRay players side of the world are merely the means by which people continue to
GPS with whom they play drive connections and build relationships. As they
Video games games, or the 500 million grow in functionality yet (where meaningful) shrink in
Facebook users with whom size, they are be er able to be used by people
they have the potential to connect to do what people do best: connect.
– among others – in an instant at any time and
from anywhere. They allow for content creation,
content sharing, content rating and
They can be “there,” wherever “there” is at any most importantly, content contentment
given moment, whenever they want, from as never before.
wherever they are.
This holiday season the promise of a connected
world inches closer to reality. 15
Yes, the promise of a connected world is celebrated
by many. A er all, more than 4.6 billion cell phones Our world, disconnected
are in use, YouTube has nearly 2 billion views a day,
and Facebook claims more than 500 million users. While the things that frustrate people about
consumer technology, such as those listed below,
Yet consumer technology still frustrates a hell of a may not be surprising, they may bear repeating
lot of people. since in addition to being frustrations, they are
also barriers to adoption, barriers to sales and
In fact, the greatest hurdle the industry may have to barriers to expanding the reach of technology
overcome to make the promise a reality is the
into our lives.:
continuing anxiety, aggravation and annoyance
consumer technology inspires.
• Too many choices, too li le trusted counsel
Unfortunately, the problem may get worse before it • Unrequested computer updates
gets be er. • Too many functions on one device
For instance, according to “Greying Gadgets: How • Lack of support for older products
Older Americans Shop for and Use Consumer Elec- • Possibility of losing ﬁles, work, music, etc.
tronics,” a 2009 study from the Consumer Electron- • Perceived smugness of workers in tech support
ics Association (CEA)14, older age groups use many
electronic devices at about the same rate as those
younger than them. “Consumers in their 50s are as • Vast array of phone plans
likely to own, or plan on buying, an HDTV as those un- • Monitoring children’s online use
der 50. Eighty percent of 60-somethings used a cell • Ba eries that need constant charging
phone in the past week, nearly equal the usage rates
of 18-34 year olds,” notes the study. Even Facebook – more technology, the instances of frustration may
which started out as a social networking site grow, as well. That said, as younger people who are
for college students – is graying, with a new more comfortable with technology themselves age,
report from the Pew Research Center’s frustration among this now-older generation may
Internet & American Life Project reporting dissipate commensurately.
that almost half (47 percent) of people on the
site are now between 50 years of age and 64 years While older people may tip the scales in their levels
of age.15 of frustration, adults of all ages are easily frustrated
by the technology they’ve adopted. As a 2010 study
But the CEA study, as well as reports from other from the CMO Council’s Customer Experience Board
sources including Pew, also note higher levels of notes, 64 percent of people say their computer has
frustration with consumer technology among older caused them “anguish or anxiety.”16
Americans. As more people who get frustrated adopt
61% of consumers have a hard 54% of consumers agree that ge ing
time keeping up with tech changes technology products set up is the hardest
(79% of those ages 55+) part about buying new technology
% 56% of consumers do not feel
wait times, inability to ﬁx problems, the cost of the
service and limited language skills of technicians.
How the various sectors of the consumer technology
industry address the obstacles to a more positive
they get the most out of the relationship between people and technology may
technology products they own mean the diﬀerence between fulﬁlling the promise of
a connected world or coming up short.
(65% of those 55+)
Reputations are built over the long term, yet they
And a 2008 report from Pew17 shows that almost can be destroyed over night. The longer people
half (48 percent) of technology users require help remain (or, worse, grow more) frustrated by aspects
with new devices. Moreover, as technology becomes of consumer technology, the more diﬃcult it will be
more integral to people, and more integrated into for them to embrace and ultimately beneﬁt from the
their personal and professional lives, notes the Pew promise of a connected world.
report, “their patience wears thin when things break.”
Among people whose technology had failed, 48 While people increasingly are becoming more central
percent felt “discouraged” with the amount of time in the consumer technology universe, without some
and eﬀort ge ing things ﬁxed took and serious industry a ention to the issues that frustrate
40 percent felt “confused” by the people most, their movement to the center may be
information available to them. delayed indeﬁnitely.
Turning to professional help, which Happy holidays, please hold
should ease anxiety, o en only adds to it.
Hard to believe it, but in 2008 a study from the TechGuys,
According to the CMO Council’s study, “today’s one of the largest technical support providers in the UK,
digitally dependent consumers are increasingly reported that on Christmas morning frustration with
overwhelmed and upset with technical glitches and consumer technology gi s and gadgets peaks at 11:48
problems in their daily lives. The source of their pain: a.m., on the dot.
frustrating, complex computers and devices, techni-
cal failures, viral infections, and long waits to resolve “The language used by major technology companies
support issues that disrupt the ﬂow of their work can be completely baﬄing even for the most technically
and personal lives.” These users, it concludes, “face a gi ed of us,” linguistics expert David Crystal, author of the
continuous state of technical anxiety.” Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, said in an article
about the study that appeared in the Dailey Telegraph in
A Parks Associates study18 shows that in 2009 London. “Many use highly complex terms that only spe-
almost one out of three people used in-store or in- cialists within the technology ﬁeld would be able to put
home technical support, a 10 percent increase from into context.”
2006. Whether this is a result of poor-quality de-
vices, connections, customer service, the growth of Whereas it used to be the greatest frustration a gi giver
and marketing by tech support companies like Geek felt was forge ing to have enough triple-A ba eries on
Squad that are making it okay to seek help from out- hand or diﬃculty using a screwdriver or wrench to get a
side service providers or other causes, the fact that much-anticipated gi up and running, today Christmas
more people are requesting help is itself frustrating. morning (or any morning) can involve long waits online
or on the phone with customer service representatives
Yet customer technical support has not kept pace overwhelmed with calls.
with the growing complexity of technical require-
ments, deepening frustration among those who need The promise of a connected world that includes easy
help (and creating opportunity for those that provide assemble, easy set up and easily had help when
it). Top sources of stress and frustration with the necessary may be the greatest holiday gi of all.
tech support experience, says the CMO, include long
New Social Connections from Best Buy
BEST BUY: OUR PERSPECTIVE
% 64% of consumers agree
because constant change can be overwhelming
... because usual customer service can be
that technology brings families because while people are ge ing savvier with each
new technology purchase, they’re still feeling unsure
closer together about how to connect it, connect with it and use it to
connect with others...
We live in a connected world that every day is because people are fearful of being le behind ...
connecting faster and faster and faster. At Best because people are excited about charging ahead.
Buy we relish the pace. We’re exhilarated by how
the connected world is evolving and presenting For these reasons and more, our distinctive
new opportunities to deepen our relationship with relationship with consumers has given us an
consumers. We’re inspired by discovering new extraordinary opportunity to help them get the most
ways to help people understand and enjoy all from this new world.
that the connected world allows today and
We believe in our Connected World
We’ll be the ﬁrst (and the loudest) to say that the strategy so much – both in its current
connected world is less about the technology reality and in its promise to continue to
and devices people use and more about how that enrich and enliven our days far into the
technology and those devices access and bring to
future – that we have taken our Best Buy
life the human interaction people want and need
(it’s about experiences). A er all, vacation pictures heritage and shaken it up a bit
are about the memories they evoke, not about the to become not just Best Buy, but the
camera. Watching a movie is about the experience of Best of what you Buy, helping people
a great ﬁlm, not the DVD player. Talking with friends bridge the connectivity gap in selection,
and family is about the human connections those service, price and convenience this holiday
conversations create, not about the phone. The
season and beyond.
devices are important, but they are only a means to
an end, not the end itself. We are the consumer advocate in consumer
electronics, oﬀering many brands and lots of choice.
The connected world may mean diﬀerent things to Every day we help customers ﬁnd solutions for
diﬀerent people but, ultimately, the deﬁnition resides their needs and help them be er understand the
in the fundamental premise that people are innately possibilities of all that we oﬀer in devices, content,
social beings and want to connect with other people. connections and services.
People are looking for a resource they can trust to We know, for instance, that being a part of a “social
help them understand and navigate the complexities network” has li le to do with Facebook, Beebo, hi5
of the connected world... or Orkut. These don’t deﬁne our world. Instead, in the
connected world as we believe it truly is, social networks are about people and the relationships they form
with one another, enabled by devices and websites. Real social networks are complex and personalized, built
through multiple technologies that enable person-to-person human connections: the ones in the family room
that bring family and friends together to watch the big game, the ones via smart phones that enable social
network access, the ones that share documents and photos and e-mail, the ones using Webcams that allow
friends to show oﬀ their latest fashion ﬁnds with one another.
These are the experiences of the connected world, the results of coming together.
We believe in the human experience of social networks so much that we’ve created our own human social
network – a virtual human search engine with 160,000 uniquely trained Blue Shirts and 20,000 Geek Squad
Agents who help consumers address their needs and be er understand the possibilities of devices, content,
connections and services.
Our Blue Shirts are trained to help customers zero in on the experience they want, allow them to test and
try things, and advise them on how to best connect the various devices, content and people to enhance their
lives. Our Geek Squad Agents provide resources for technical support anytime and anywhere it’s needed – 24
hours a day, 365 days a year. We oﬀer the most convenient technology-support service available, with agents
available in every Best Buy store, via house calls and online remote service.
Ultimately, Best Buy is more than a place to buy devices. It is a comprehensive resource to help people
use technology to connect (and stay connected) to the services they need, the information they crave, the
entertainment they want and, perhaps most importantly, the people they love.
The promise of the connected world comes together at Best Buy every day.
Eventually, I believe we won’t even need any devices. We’ll all have con-
tact lens with built-in three-dimensional displays - bionic eyes that will
allow us to receive and share content, redeﬁning the connected world
as we know it.
Chief Technology Oﬃcer at Best Buy Co., Inc., Founder of Geek Squad
SECTION SUMMARIES AND IMPLICATIONS
Re-Deﬁning Connection: want to be able to connect with people from any
Today’s deﬁnition of what it means to be connected device. A full 65 percent of consumers want all of
is all about generating content, sharing content, their technology devices to “talk” to each other. In
and deepening relationships between people and the not too distant future, consumer desires will
those they care about; between people and brands, be a reality.
companies and products that are important to
them; and between people and the never-ending Connectivity Conundrum:
sources of information that the Web has inspired. With the great promise of the connected world
Being connected today has moved far beyond the and the possibility that new technologies enable,
traditional dictionary deﬁnition to encompass the there is no doubt that consumer technology still
way we live, the technology that is available to us, frustrates the hell out of a lot of people. People
and the opportunities that technology presents o en are overwhelmed by choices, customer
for creating connections that not only redeﬁne the support challenges and the speed at which
word, but redeﬁne our lives. technology is evolving. Only eight percent of
consumers feel they are completely on top of
The Shi ing Tech Universe: technology changes and 54 percent agree that
ge ing products set up is the hardest part about
Myriad. . . data points exist that all point to the
buying new technology. Without serious industry
same thing: shi s in human behaviors, desires
a ention to the issues that frustrate people most,
and expectations may signiﬁcantly inﬂuence how
it will be diﬃcult for people to fully embrace
all sectors of the consumer electronics industry
and ultimately beneﬁt from the promise of the
innovate going forward. . . this shi oﬀers all sectors
of the consumer technology industry opportunities
to lead and build a favorable reputation through
cu ing-edge innovation, and honest and transparent Our World, Connected – New Social
interaction with consumers. And ﬁnally, more Connectivity from Best Buy:
importantly, this shi and the impact of its inﬂuence At Best Buy, we believe in our Connected World
will further move people to the center, solidifying strategy so much – both in its current reality and
their position as dynamic central players in the in its promise to continue to enrich our days far
future of the consumer technology industry. into the future – that we have taken our Best Buy
heritage and shaken it up to become not just Best
The Promise of a Connected World: Buy, but the Best of what you Buy. Helping people
The promise of a connected world is not sacrosanct bridge the connectivity gap in selection, service,
but an evolving promise that, in business-speak, price and convenience. Our 160,000 Blue Shirts
is also easily customizable. Each of us views the and 20,000 Geek Squad Agents talk to consumers
promise of a connected world through the lens every day and help people use technology to
of our own lives, experiences and expectations. connect to the services they need, the information
Technology plays a unique and integral role in our they crave, the entertainment they want and the
ability to connect, and consumer see the possibility people they love.
of what’s ahead. Fi y-four percent of consumers
Our World, Connected Omnibus Survey, August 2010. Methodology: Study ﬁndings compiled by the
Consumer Insights Unit at Best Buy. The survey was conducted online among a sample of 994
respondents ages 18+ using the ﬁeld services of e-Rewards from August 26-30, 2010. The results
are nationally representative of the U.S. and have a margin of error of +/- 3 percent
Williams, Doug, J.P. Gownder, Laura Wiramihardja, and Anne E. Corbe . US Consumers Are Willing
Co-Creators - August, 2010. Forrester Research
Best Buy: “BTP in the Connected World,” qualitative pre-study, 2010
Our World, Connected Omnibus Survey, August 2010
Best Buy: “BTP in the Connected World,” qualitative pre-study, 2010
Internet, Cell Phones Are Changes for the Be er. December 21, 2009. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research
“Natural User Interfaces: Voice, Touch and Beyond: Project Natal and Other Natural User Interface
Products That Microso Is Working on Are Helping Usher in a New Generation of Human-computer
Interaction.” Microso Corporation. Web. <h p://www.microso .com/presspass/features/2010/
“To Win Over Users, Gadgets Have to Be Touchable.” New York Times. 1 September 2010. Web. 15
ComScore: “Great Expectations, How Advertising for Original Scripted TV Programming Works Online,”
Nielsen Netview, June 2009 – June 2010
Walsh, Mike. Futuretainment: Yesterday the World Changed, Now It’s Your Turn. London: Phaidon, 2009. Print
Consumer Electronics Association 11th Annual Household Consumer Electronics and Market Potential
Study, May 2009
Forrester’s North American Technographics Benchmark Survey of nearly 48,000 respondents, 2009
Consumer Electronics Association/TNS Compete: “Greying Gadgets: How Older Americans Shop for
and Use Consumer Electronic,” January 2009
Swi , Mike. “Near Majority of the Over-50 Crowd Using Social Networks.” San Jose Mercury News 27
CMO Council, Customer Experience Board: “Combating Computer Stress Syndrome: Barriers and Best
Practices in Tech Support,” May 2010
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project: “When Technology Fails, November 2008
Park Associates study on Customer Support in the Digital Home, 2009
Material may be used with credit given to Best Buy.