A recent Pew Research Center telephone survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 2,967 American adults. The latest "Social & Demographic Trends" survey findings were very insightful. Indeed, the shift in consumer behavior would help to explain why some leading companies are preparing to challenge the conventional wisdom that has guided their industry for decades.
According to the Pew poll results, interest in two legacy consumer electronics (CE) devices are fading fast -- the television set and the landline telephone. They're both apparently suffering from a sharp decline in public perception that these devices are "necessities" of life.
In fact, just 42 percent of Americans say they consider the television set to be a necessity, according to this latest nationwide survey. By comparison, last year this figure was 52 percent. And, in 2006 it was 64 percent.
However, the decline has been less severe for the landline telephone. Some 62 percent of Americans say it's a necessity of life, down from 68 percent last year.
But, there's a related trend that's more telling about the likely future demand, or the lack thereof, for landline phone services. More than 47 percent of the public now say that the mobile phone has become a necessity of life, and it's replacing the need for a legacy landline phone.
Even more worrisome for both legacy devices are the attitudes of today's American young adults. Fewer than half (46 percent) of 18- to 29-year-old survey respondents consider the landline phone a necessity of life. Moreover, fewer than three-in-ten (29 percent) say the same about the television set.
What is not clear from the results of this study is the primary reason why people believe that they can do without a TV. Several questions remain unanswered. Are they finding the real-time news information they seek online? Do they prefer viewing video content online because of the reduced advertising? Is it really a decline of interest in the device, or the typical content that American broadcast and pay-TV services offer?
There's one thing that is very clear, however. Whether the need is for a basic television set, a flat-screen television, or traditional pay-TV services, the pattern is the same -- the older the respondent, the more likely the person is to say that these things are still necessities of life.
Perhaps that's why consumer electronics manufacturers, such as Samsung, are attempting to revive the perceived need for TV sets -- by shifting the focus away from a dependency on the usual sources of content distribution and actively encouraging the development of new interactive software applications.