Devices Aren’t Dead: 36 Percent of Smartphone Owners State That Apps Don’t Satisfy Their Needs

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Abalta White Paper and Consumer Study Provide Evidence that Smartphone Apps Are Not Completely Cannibalizing Hardware

"...both apps and devices can live harmoniously in the market given consumer needs and perceptions.”

Abalta, a leading developer of location-based software solutions, today released a white paper titled Dedicated Devices Aren't Dead - Exploring the Demand for Apps vs. Hardware. The paper argues that while today’s “app culture” has certainly disrupted a number of technologies, the mobile electronics market is showing signs of resistance to being completely cannibalized by smartphones. To bring in the perspective of the consumer, Abalta commissioned a study to probe the attitudes of consumers and their preferences for devices versus smartphone applications. Among other findings, the study shows that 36 percent of smartphone owners still prefer dedicated devices that provide a better experience.

“It is key that we remind ourselves that the consumer market is not homogeneous,” said Michael O’Shea, president of Abalta Technologies, ”While it is easy to believe that a disruptive technology, like smartphones, will quickly cannibalize incumbent solutions, there is strong evidence to show that both apps and devices can live harmoniously in the market given consumer needs and perceptions.”

The Abalta white paper presents a balanced view of the argument highlighting areas of both convergence and divergence, and is backed by an Abalta-commissioned study that presents a true consumer point-of-view. Given the popularity of mobile sport and fitness devices and applications in the market, Abalta chose to focus the study on two distinct segments of the population – golfers and runners who also own a smartphones. The study provides details into the preferences of these segments while also presenting greater insights into the drivers of these purchases.

Key highlights from the study and white paper:

  • Divergence Exists: 36 percent of smartphone owners are rejecting convergence. Briefly stated, this means a certain segment of consumer still wants separate mobile electronic devices that can provide a better experience than smartphones and apps can provide.
  • Story of Convenience vs. Quality: In terms of purchase drivers, a disparity exists between those who prefer apps versus those that prefer devices. The story is one of convenience over quality. The top reasons for purchasing apps are convenience and ease of purchase while quality and accuracy are noted as the top reasons for dedicated devices.
  • Saturation or Cannibalization?: Evidence in the market, such as Garmin’s financials, show that declines in some consumer electronics segments, such as portable navigation devices, may be a result of saturation versus app cannibalization. Strong growth in Garmin’s Outdoor and Fitness business units contradicts the exponential growth of smartphones and app downloads.

The white paper “Dedicated Devices Aren't Dead - Exploring the Demand for Apps vs. Hardware” can be downloaded at in our “Insights” section or directly at

Methodological Notes
Abalta’s figures are based on an online survey conducted in April 2011 by Survey Analytics among 244 smartphone users in the United States.

Abalta is a leading developer of location-based software solutions. From dedicated GPS devices to consumer smartphone applications to connected automotive systems, the company has supported a wide range of customers in delivering innovative and engaging experiences to their end-customers. Abalta has helped companies grow in their respective fields with a deep awareness of the market combined with an unrivaled technical aptitude in software and systems in our domain. Spanning eight years, Abalta has launched over 150 individual programs for 50 different customer brands globally. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @abaltatech.


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Matthew Mowat