Is The Future Really Always-On?
The term "always on" (AO) has been much touted - it is taken for granted that it will be a necessary part of any service, and a requisite to having a competitive product offering. This chapter takes a look at consumer focus groups, which attempted to indentify the user's understanding and desire for AO services, to determine whether AO is really as necessary as manufacturers seem to assume it will be.
One caveat: the focus groups studied were in Europe: Spain, Finland, UK, France, Sweden, and Italy.
Common findings were:
- AO is understood to mean "immediate access on request"
- Users still desire to switch devices off when they're not using them, but expect to have network connectivity as soon as the device is switched on.
- Access to information that users are seeking is far more valuable than information that is "pushed" to them
- Users see certain service as being related to a specific device (access the internet on a computer, make a call on a cell phone)
- Most user groups found the concept of "continuous contact" to have negative connotations - more of a burden than a convenience
The primary benefits of AO were expected to be:
- Instant access without having to actively establish a connection
- Immediate access to new or updated information
- Being able to communicate from any location
- Being able to remotely access or control computers and other appliances
- Always-on is perceived as relating to the network, not to a particular service.
There are a number of other findings detailed that are specific to a group or a purpose - quite extensive, but not of immediate interest.
EN: I don't think there can be a general "rule" about AO. You must consider the nature of the particular device and the corresponding behavior of the consumer to come to a decision of whether the device should be "always on" or can be switched on when needed, taking into account whether it is feasible for the device to "boot" quickly enough for the user's liking. If you overestimate the need, you will add cost and complexity to a product. If you underestimate, the user will be frustrated and turn to a different model which provides a faster startup time. It's an important consideration - but again, no conclusion is going to be "right" for all devices and all consumers.