There’s always a lot of hype and fanfare surrounding the upcoming release of the latest models in the tech world. In smartphones, gaming, video: you name the tech sector, there’s that next step in technological development that companies are trying to get people to buy. There was a time when the latest releases were must-buy items, however, by looking at several tech-driven consumer markets, there may be hints that the supposed best items out there aren’t as appealing as they once were. Many sales figures are leaning towards a decline in the adoption of top-tier, premium tech, with some consumers evidently opting for the more simple options available.
So, is the market starting to be more willing to settle on existing technology and more straightforward offerings, as opposed to the latest and greatest in tech innovations?
The best way to watch television
Particularly in streaming and gaming circles, a lot of users point to services and titles being viewable in 4K, or that the UHD (ultra-high-definition) viewer experience makes everything much better. Given all of the hype, one would assume that most premium viewing channels would cater to 4K consistently. Instead, while many premium TV companies have 4K channels, very few programs are shown or are even made to be shown in such high definition, per Wirecutter.
Most satellite or cable television providers will have a few 4K channels, perhaps for major new nature shows or big-money sports tournaments, like the FIFA World Cup, and now streaming platforms are getting in on the action. Netflix has a Premium Plan with UHD 4K available for anyone with hardware capable of showing the quality. However, the plan also allows for HD streaming and up to four screens to be used, which is, arguably, the bigger draw of the Premium Plan.
Perhaps the best place to look for the lack of adoption is the home video space. It is said that most people watch 4K content via streaming, likely due to the need to have a 4K Blu-ray player to view the discs. However, disc-versions of UHD movies offer five-times the data as streaming 4K movies. Regardless, the customer base looks to have settled for this inferior version of 4K viewing, with Samsung pulling out of the 4K UHD Blu-ray market, as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4 forgoing a 4K player altogether.
Convenience and costs likely play a significant role here, and yet, customers visibly pride themselves on being able to view things in their best possible form. That said, opinions may sway when Sony’s next home console comes out. The PlayStation 5 features 4K-TV gaming, HDR technology, 8K output, and will be able to play 4K UHD Blu-rays. Sony’s gaming consoles have had a considerable influence on the home video market in the past. When the PlayStation 2 came out, its integrated DVD players proved to be many peoples’ DVD players, enabling them to go out and buy movies and series as well as games. The same may come true for UHD 4K when the PS5 is finally released.
Some of the Xbox One family of consoles were released with 4K players too, but, as all of the console sales combined amounted to less than half of that of the PS4, and over 10 million fewer than the Nintendo Switch, they weren’t popular enough to influence the market. However, the Xbox Series X has been promoted much better than its predecessors, and it, too, will feature 4K capabilities.
The non-stop smartphone race
Every year, the leading competitors in the smartphone industry release a brand-new flagship phone that comes at the ultimate premium cost. The two heavyweights in this division are Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy. The iPhone 11 is often cited as the most premium smartphone of this generation, with Apple once again doing an incredible job on the promotions and advertisement front.
The 2019 release was said to have yielded strong sales numbers. Per WCCF Tech, the iPhone 11 sold 12 million units around launch, marking a 15 percent increase in the sales of the iPhone XR. However, the even more premium models, the Pro and Pro Max, reported sales 15 percent lower than the iPhone XS and XS Max despite having the same price point.
The less premium brand of Samsung and its premium-priced flagship smartphones have also seen a tumble in sales. This is despite there being a good amount of decent press surrounding the Galaxy S20 family of phones, including the fact that the S20+ camera can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro. The Galaxy S10 managed to shift 140,000 units in its first day in 2019, but this year, the Galaxy S20 family of smartphones only sold an estimated 70,800 units around launch.
Sometimes, simplicity wins the debate
There was a time when every blockbuster release proved its prestige by incorporating 3D screenings. Perhaps the finest example of this was James Cameron’s Avatar, which raked in $2.74 billion worldwide. While it was a popular gimmick for a while, with some movies being ‘shot’ in 3D and others tacking it on post-filming, Vice reports that long-term studies have shown that the majority of the audience gets a form of discomfort from wearing modern 3D glasses in screenings.
Some of the work that the likes of Framestore, the company that worked on Avatar, have achieved is truly mesmerizing. Still, in theatres, the majority of people opt for the regular 2D experience over the 3D showings. Of course, the increased price is a consideration here. It’s also seen in other entertainment sectors that simplicity appeals to the many, even when prices are even. For example, the Betway live casino features classic titles and slots and, while live casino games represent the most technologically advanced form of online gaming, there’s no denying the mass popularity of the ever-updating slots section, and classic online casino table games.
The same can be seen in computer gaming: many of the most popular games aren’t brand new games or so-called triple-A games, and don’t push the tech available. In the Steam chart of top games by current player count, as of late August, by far the top two most-played games, DOTA 2 and CS: GO, are old and free-to-play, and the fifth-ranked is a game released seven years ago; Grand Theft Auto V. Fall Guys has also climbed into the charts. A very recent release, it’s far from being a premium title, but players are gravitating to its simple, game show-like gameplay.
There will always be customers who seek the best possible experience through the latest and most premium tech, but trends show that most consumers are happy with non-premium options.