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Consumers are upgrading their technologies less frequently [stats]

Upgrading your phone and laptop every year used to be common, but the cycles are slowing. Let’s discuss.

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mobile apps, android tablets

We used to upgrade every year

Smartphone technology used to be updated so quickly that by the time you picked up a new phone, it was already out of date. It’s no secret that companies like Samsung, Motorola and even Apple flooded the market with subsequent product launches. A majority of the time, the hardware and feature upgrades between models were minimal at best.

But people kept buying in more and more frequently, which is why we have the new wireless subscription models that allow you to upgrade more often than once every two years.

Who needs a new iPhone?

However, it looks like that model may be about to change again. According to one BTIG analyst, smartphone upgrade cycles are taking longer, resulting in fewer sales, especially for Apple. The analyst firm lowered their annual sales estimates for iPhone sales as well. Customers just don’t feel the need to upgrade.

iPad sales have declined for the past few years as well, and for good reason. Nothing is enticing customers to upgrade, especially when they already have a fully working device capable of doing what they need.

It’s not just smartphones and tablets either, because there are a lot of people sticking with the same old PCs and computers they’ve had for years. Even PC upgrade cycles have slowed so much that in 2015, the market saw the absolute lowest level of sales since 2007.

Folks — like gamers — who live on the cutting edge are just now starting to upgrade because virtual reality tech calls for more powerful hardware. It took an entirely new and innovative type of technology to get people to start upgrading their PCs, at least more frequently.

Varying hardware upgrade cycles

It’s interesting, considering all of these devices have different release cycles. If we go by Apple’s schedule, new iPhones are good for about a year before customers are tempted to upgrade. If you don’t count the “S” incremental updates, then iPhone owners don’t really need to upgrade until about the two-year mark.

In comparison, Samsung’s smartphones aren’t relevant nearly as long, but the company also releases way more devices than Apple.

Then there are tablets, which have a slightly longer lifetime of about two to three years.

We’re not even going to discuss computers, which can have varying lifetimes depending on the type, brand and hardware — though it is worth noting that hardware upgrades for computers have slowed in more recent times.

There are several reasons why these devices have different upgrade cycles. With smartphones, it’s because we use them more often, and because the technology is advancing at an alarming rate. Computers and tablets, on the other hand, remain relevant longer in terms of processing power, so there’s no need to upgrade as often.

Why aren’t customers upgrading?

All this information is great to know, but it doesn’t answer the main question: Why are upgrade cycles slowing?

Barring economic changes — let’s be honest here, everything is getting more expensive — the build quality, hardware and even software for a lot of these devices are good enough to stretch out those upgrade cycles. As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

When customers have a working smartphone, tablet or computer, they’re less likely to upgrade.

With smartphones especially, the big wireless providers have dropped contract-based subscription plans, prompting customers to stick with one device for longer. There’s also the fact that they have to pay full price for a smartphone up front, as opposed to paying subsidized fees in a contract. When you go from paying $200 or cheaper for a new phone to well over $400, you tend to make that kind of purchase less often.

What does this all mean?

To be perfectly honest, it just means that consumers are playing things smart for now. Companies like Apple will likely have to adapt, lest they bleed revenue after launching incremental hardware upgrades that no one wants.

We’ll probably see these companies slow their product launches. Apple, for instance, may release fewer products over a greater period of time to minimize a loss in revenue. Samsung will definitely have to do something like this if they haven’t already.

In the end, this is not necessarily bad news for everyone, but it does signify that the mobile tech market is slowing a bit, even if other markets — like wearables and smart home tech — are booming.

#Upgrades

Megan Ray Nichols is an editorialist at The American Genius, and is a technical writer who's passionate about technology and the science. She also regularly writes at Smart Data Collective, IoT Times, and ReadWrite. Megan publishes easy to understand articles on her blog, Schooled By Science - subscribe today for weekly updates!

Tech News

Loss of internet access is used as punishment for those who abuse it

(TECH NEWS) Internet access is becoming more of a human right especially in light of recent events –so why is revoking it being used as a punishment?

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Internet access

When one hears the word “punishment”, several things likely come to mind—firing, fees, jail time, and even death for the dramatic among us—but most people probably don’t envision having their access to utilities restricted as a legal repercussion.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening across the country—if you consider Internet access a utility.

In the past, you’ve probably heard stories about people awaiting trial or experiencing probation limitations being told that they are not to use the Internet or certain types of communication. While this may seem unjust, the circumstances usually provide some context for the extreme nature of such a punishment; for example, it seems reasonable to ask that a person accused of downloading child pornography keep off the internet.

More recently–and perhaps more controversially—a young man accused of using social media to incite violent behavior during country-wide protests was ordered to stay offline while awaiting trial. This order came after the individual purportedly encouraged people to “[tip] police cars”, vandalize property, and generally exhibit other “riot”-oriented behaviors.

Whether or not one reads this post as a specific call to create violence—something that is, in fact, illegal—the fact remains that the “punishment” for this crime in lieu of a current conviction involves cutting off the person involved from all internet access until a verdict is achieved.

The person involved in this story may be less than sympathetic depending on your stance, but they aren’t alone. The response of cutting off the Internet in this case complements other stories we’ve seen, such as one regarding Cox and a client in Florida. Allegedly, the client in question paid for unlimited data—a potential issue in and of itself—and then exceeded eight terabytes of monthly use on multiple occasions.

Did Cox correct their plan, allocate more data, throttle this user, or reach out to explain their concerns, you may ask?

No. Cox alerted the user in question that they would terminate his account if his use continued to be abnormally high, and in the meantime, they throttled the user’s ENTIRE neighborhood. This kind of behavior would be unacceptable when applied to any other utility (imagine having your air conditioning access “throttled” during the summer), so why is it okay for Cox?

The overarching issue in most cases stems from Internet provider availability; in many areas, clients have one realistic option for an Internet provider, thus allowing that provider to set prices, throttle data, and impose restrictions on users free of reproach.

Anyone who has used Comcast, Cox, or Cable One knows how finicky these services can be regardless of time of use, and running a simple Google speed test is usually enough to confirm that the speeds you pay for and the speeds you receive are rarely even close.

In the COVID era in which we find ourselves, it is imperative that Internet access be considered more than just a commodity: It is a right, one that cannot be revoked simply due to a case of overuse here, or a flaw in a data plan there.

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Tech News

Integrate language learning into daily browsing with this new extension

(TECH NEWS) Interested in learning a second language but struggling to find the time? This new extension helps you learn French with no added time commitment.

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Woman seated on couch with laptop open to Fluent, a language learning extension on Chrome.

Language education software has long struggled to help students who don’t have sufficient time to study and practice. Sparing ten minutes a day on Duolingo for language learning is a really big commitment for some folks, even during a quarantine (but hey, no judgement here). Fortunately, Fluent has arrived to eliminate your remaining excuses for being monolingual.

Fluent is a new browser extension that helps you practice French while you browse the web. By replacing words in your native language with vocabulary in your target language, everything that you read through your web browser becomes a tiny bit bilingual. Slowly, Fluent acclimates your brain to seeing and translating foreign words automatically by teaching them through contexts that you’re already familiar with. Right now it’s only available in French, but new language offerings are already in the works.

On their producthunt.com page, co-founder Ara Ghougassian says that Fluent “helps by removing the friction to practice; you install Fluent and instantly you’re learning new vocabulary right inside your browser. No apps, no notifications, no setting time aside to study.”

As a language learner myself, I love the idea of seamlessly integrating my studies into daily life. There’s nothing quite like being able to read in your target language. With Fluent, users are able to do that right away. Drills and flashcards are okay, but straight-up memorization isn’t a very engaging or intuitive way to learn.

That being said, if you’re serious about learning a language, it’s worth giving yourself a reality check here: There is no singular, effortless, or fast way to become proficient. There’s no avoiding the fact that real fluency does take considerable time and effort. Language learning is just like building up your muscles: You have to consistently exercise if you want to get stronger.

So while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you rely on Fluent alone to study, the extension is a great introduction to developing those habits in your language learning. This particularly helps folks who find the idea of picking up a new language from scratch intimidating. But if you’re just curious about French, you’ll love its bite-sized approach to learning new words (not to mention, the hint of French on every webpage means you’ll feel a little bit posh while you’re surfing the web)!

Language skills are a wonderful way to invest in yourself, expand your career prospects, and unlock doors to new cultures; Fluent makes it easy to get started on your journey. Bonne chance!

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Tech News

Goal-based project management tool simplifies your work life

(TECH NEWS) If you are struggling to keep tasks straight then this new tool Qoals allows for a simpler and more straightforward way to accomplish goals as a team.

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Qoals pitch

We all have goals – whether they be personal, professional, financial, etc. Anyone can set a goal, all it takes is having a thought and assigning it a certain level of importance. However, not everyone completes their goals due to the oft difficulties and confusions associated with execution.

Like anything else, if there’s a will, there’s a way. A new way has been found in the form of Qoals – a simple and straightforward tool that helps you to get aligned around business goals instead of an endless wall of tasks.

The ability to complete goals is done through: setting goals, adding tasks, collecting things, and tracking progress. With this, everyone on your team has access to this information to keep tabs on what’s happening.

With setting goals, you create and prioritize your goals, letting your team members know which ones are most important at that time. Goals can be prioritized with tabs such as: long term, short term, and urgent. By adding tasks, you can add and assign tasks to set a clear path in order to complete set goals.

In collecting things, you collect resources related to your goal and keep them in one safe place (again, this is accessible to your whole team). This doesn’t require uploading files, but simply including links to resources to keep everything easily accessible. Finally, by tracking progress, everyone on the team can see where you’re at with your goals – which saves time with the follow ups of “how’s Goal X going?”

Why did Qoals develop this goal-oriented approach? “It’s about time we simplify things,” according to the official website. “Get aligned around goals and let everyone know what’s important for the business. Add goals under various projects and start adding tasks and resources to make that goal happen.”

Additionally, Qoals boasts that this provides users with a birds-eye view of what’s happening with their team, allowing them to be more human-centric. You can create unlimited projects, set and track your goals, collected everything related to said goal, keep the discussion relevant, access your tasks with one click, stay connected to your team, and see what’s going on at a glance.
Qoals is currently in beta.

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