by Rachel Steinhardt
“Hey! Pay attention to me!” Consumers feel the pull of distraction from every direction, but which voices are louder: the virtual ones emanating from the screen’s glow, or the disgruntled ones coming from friends and family across the table? Our 2013 Year in Media, Entertainment and Technology trend research revealed that many consumers are constantly conflicted about their mobile versus real world behaviors.
Frankly, we’re impressed by the thoughtfulness with which consumers have seemed to approach the issue throughout the past year, though it’s clear that there are no easy answers for people trying desperately to balance their hyperlives.
In the weeks since we’ve completed this trend’s research, we’ve noted that Apple, the harbinger of all things mobile-culture, changed its tune about where consumer attentions “should” be. Where mid-2013 iPad and iPhone commercials depicted people choosing to stare at screens instead of the real world (voice-over text: “This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a product.”), the latest campaign shows people glancing at their devices, but then turning their heads to their surroundings.
It’s subtle, but this slight difference perfectly captures the way we think people are thinking about their mobile manners. Other examples can be found in our research. Our most-read tech-focused observation article of 2013 showcased the creepy factor of a video that imagines a world where consumers don’t ever look up. The nervousness with which consumers clicked play on this video points to a growing unease, and perhaps guilt about not engaging with surroundings.
All of this explains the genesis of our Balancing the Social Media Diet research brief, in which we attempted to define the real strategies consumers are employing to change their uncomfortable new online social habits, and the ways that brands can help (or get out of the way) during this process. In the Year in Review research, we’ve put forward a few more ideas and examples for excellent mobile app design that could help consumers keep their phones in their pockets.
photo credit: Ed Yourdon, Flickr.com