Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/10/2012 3:19 PM

Survey: We want simple technology

Success - Article sent! close

What do people want most from their smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices? Simplicity, at least according to a new Ketchum Digital Living Index survey of about 6,000 people.

Ketchum, which has offices in Chicago, said 76 percent of consumers were not very satisfied with technology's ability to make their lives simpler.

Responses also revealed that about 54 percent prefer technology to be easy to use; 46 percent said they want it to simplify their life; and 35 percent want technology to entertain them.

"The most surprising finding in the study is the overwhelming desire for simplification. It seems counterintuitive when technology is always about being bigger or better or faster, but the data show that what people really want is to understand how all of these devices can get them to their desired experience easily," Esty Pujadas, partner and director of Ketchum's Global Technology Practice, said in a statement. "Manufacturers need to use less so-called jargon monoxide and communicate more about the human experience, not just about the object."

Guess it all depends on your definition of "simple."

Libertyville-based Motorola Mobility's products are designed to provide "rich experiences" yet simplify lives, said Jonathan Ruff, senior director of Technical Solutions Management at Motorola Mobility.

"You will see that focus reflected across our recent strategic initiatives, including a commitment to launching fewer products overall, technology that makes it easier for consumers to find the TV content they want to watch, and rich software experiences like our Smart Actions app that automates everyday tasks on smartphones."

Ray Wright, professor of computer science and information technology at Roosevelt University in Schaumburg believes the survey is "way off base."

"If you just go back 10 years, look at all the new technology that has come on the scene and made our life easier and more enjoyable," Wright said. "For instance, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Texting, Yahoo, iTunes, e-readers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Tablets have changed our society for the better. These devices have made us more productive at work and school and more connected anywhere we are. These machines don't work by themselves. People have to learn to use them and most certainly have."

Wright said all of his college students come to class with various devices. Even his 93-year-old mother uses a mobile phone and home computer to keep in touch with family.

Although smartphones are easier to use now than a few years ago, there are still some big bumps on the road to device nirvana, said Greg Brewster, director of Center for Advanced Network Studies, School of Computing, at DePaul University.

"There are compatibility issues," Brewster said, "I can play my iTunes downloads on my iPhone, but not my Android phone, for example. There are also some bad user interfaces and apps out there. Surprisingly, some of the most common apps, such as calendar/appointment management and email, still don't have the greatest interfaces. I'm often left scratching my head about how I can retrieve an old email or get my calendar alarms to alert me of my next appointment when I want and I'm a techie kind of guy who's been doing this for a long time."

Surfing: Bang & Olufsen, which has its North American headquarters in Arlington Heights, has a new brand called B&O Play, which introduced some new high-end products. This includes BeoPlay A3, a sound system made especially for the iPad. It's available in black for $549 at Bang & Olufsen showrooms, select Apple stores, the BeoPlay online store and later this month. The B&O Play also introduces its first television called BeoPlay V1, which offers special fidelity technology. BeoPlay V1 is available in 32-inch and 40-inch at prices starting at $3,249. It's available later this month at Bang & Olufsen showrooms.

Verizon Wireless, which has its Midwest headquarters in Schaumburg, this week introduced Color for Facebook, a free social camera application where customers can use their smartphones to share live video broadcasts with their Facebook friends. It works on Verizon's 4G LTE network and provides up to 30 seconds of live video to share.

•Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.