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US consumers ‘confused’ by 5G

Six months in, and after major operators roll out coverage with great fanfare and suitable devices in their branded stores, confusion exists in the US 5G arena

Even though 5G networks have been available in the country for over six months now, and awareness of 5G is relatively high, significant confusion among flagship buyers exists and needs to be addressed, research firm Strategy Analytics has said.

The report from the analyst’s User Experience Strategies (UXS) group assessed consumer awareness, expectations and potential adoption of 5G in the US.

The report worked on the premise that the US and global markets were just at the dawn of the 5G era, and that the industry was at its earliest phase of adoption by bleeding edge customers.

It added that coverage was patchy and devices were limited at present, but that a wave of new models and broader coverage was on the horizon.

In particular, the research noted that in the US, each of the major operators have rolled out coverage with great fanfare and have begun to offer 5G devices in their stores. Yet while nearly two thirds of consumers surveyed claimed to have basic familiarity or be very familiar with 5G, nearly a fifth already thought they had 5G when they hadn’t.

A quarter of consumers in the US listed 5G as an important feature, and a fifth didn’t yet see a need for 5G, or wanted to wait until the benefits of 5G were proven before purchasing the technology. Smartphone price was overwhelmingly the biggest factor for not buying 5G.

Almost incredibly, Apple fans in the US believed the US CE giant was already among the 5G leaders despite market reality. When asked which brand they would buy for 5G capabilities, overall consumers ranked Samsung neck and neck with Apple as the most preferred.

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Commenting on the research and its implications for 5G market development, Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, of the UXS group and the author of the 5G: Consumer Awareness, Expectations, and Potential Adoption report said: “Outside of Apple and Samsung, the battle for 5G will largely be in the mid-tier – smartphones with a retail price of $600 and below.

“A wave of new entrants for 5G from China, as well as new Nokia devices, could be also be damaging to brands such as LG and Motorola, who are most at risk given their low repeat purchase intentions in the 5G era.”

Paul Brown, director, of the user experience innovation practice at Strategy Analytics, added: “But one of the biggest challenges to overcome is ensuring consumers know what they already have – and how they will benefit from 5G in the future.

“Reliable connectivity and guaranteed quality are key drivers, but consumers are not prepared to pay over the odds for this technology,” he said. “OEM’s must find a way to drive adoption through a demonstration of need, and by virtue of this need, fixing consumer pain-points. Brand and wow factors alone will only go so far.”

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