How Australian consumers are using their smartphones

01 December 2019 4 min. read
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Smartphone sales in Australia are falling, while an increasing number of consumers own connected devices, primarily in the entertainment domain. This is according to new analysis from Deloitte, which portrays an overall scenario of rapid digital adoption and integration across the country.

The dip in smartphone sales is primarily the result of consumers taking longer to switch phones, and is not necessarily an indication of a slowing industry. Indeed, the report further finds that Australians are more than ever reliant on their smartphones for an increasing number of functionalities.

“Today’s consumer world revolves around smartphones and we don’t see this changing any time soon. They will still be the primary mode through which consumers experience connectivity, potentially processing petabytes of data with a petabyte of storage before the end of the 2020s,” write Deloitte’s experts in the study titled 'Mobile Consumer Survey 2019'.

Access to connected devices

More than half of the Australian consumers surveyed by the accounting and consulting firm have invested in a smart TV, which marks an increase from 46% last year. Similar spikes in popularity can be seen across other entertainment options such as gaming consoles and wireless speakers.

Some areas where the uptake of mobile-connected devices has been particularly slow are smart lighting, smart thermostats and smart appliances, all of which recorded less than 10% penetration. One of the reasons why growth may have faltered in these segments is concerns around the vulnerability of digital appliances.

The hesitation by consumers aligns with broader trends, with weariness around cybersecurity and vulnerability to hacking a major barrier to digital adoption across industries. When it comes to embracing digital devices into their own homes, Australians have been even slower to pick up the pace. Deloitte reports that 55% of consumers see hacking or a tech failure as a considerable threat.

Average length of phone ownership

Data privacy also appears to be high among the concerns, with more than 40% citing that they had “fears of smart home technologies knowing too much about their personal lives.” One exception to the trend is voice-assisted speakers, which is rapidly finding its way into Australian homes.

Mobile purchasing

Predictably, ecommerce is rapidly on the up in mobile devices, with a fourth of the respondents indicating that they prefer to make online purchases on their phone over any device. The figure is consistent with trends across the country, where online commerce is among the brightest economic segments.

When would you switch to 5G?

Mobiles are not only being used to engage in retail and ecommerce, but reports have suggested that mobile devices and applications are increasingly penetrating larger commerce activity such as real estate as well. This comes on top of the increasing number of payments being conducted via digital avenues, lifted by a thriving financial technology (FinTech) scene.

One area where Deloitte found some reluctance is in the 5G domain. Although 5G has been recognised as a tremendous opportunity for a number of Industry 4.0 driven sectors in Australia, including defence and national security, most consumers don’t consider switching to 5G high on their agenda.

According to the researchers, “5G will not be an overnight sensation. Instead, Australians will need to ‘feel’ the difference between 5G and their current LTE connectivity, whether the impact is on their experience or wallets.”