French people own very few connected objects and moreover they do not always use the devices they have, according to the latest study on the use of mobile devices from consultancy firm Deloitte. The main obstacle to more widespread adoption seems to be that the devices are not providing sufficiently innovative functionality.

Connected objects struggling to find favour with French consumers

Close to three-quarters of French people who own ‘smart’ thermostats never use them, says the latest report on the use of mobile devices in France from the French arm of Deloitte, entitled ‘Usages Mobiles (Use of Mobile Devices) 2015: A Game of Phones’. On paper, the idea seems very appealing. It is certainly useful to be able to turn on your heating before you get home during cold spells or switch it off remotely if you forget to do so when you dash off for your weekend away. But the Deloitte survey indicates that people just do not see what is in it for them: they do not find such functionality sufficiently worthwhile.

Sales still sluggish

‟The basic problem is that the general public’s approach to using connected objects hasn’t made much progress,” argues Alexandre Buselli, consulting associate responsible for Telecoms and Media at Deloitte who co-authored the report. The 13% of smart thermostat owners polled by Deloitte who say they use it at least once a week and the 8% who claim to use it every day pale into insignificance alongside the 71% who stated that they never use the device. And the same seems to be true for other connected equipment such as remote-controlled lighting systems. ‟These devices seem quite fun at first, but people basically have other things to do, and if there isn’t sufficient financial incentive, they just won’t use it,” Alexandre Buselli points out.


The most widespread use of smart watches by French people is for health-related apps; a substantial number use them on a daily or weekly basis for this purpose (Source: ‘A Game of Phones’ – Deloitte survey among French mobile device users)

The rather weak penetration of mobile devices among the French is undoubtedly due to what is seen as a lack of genuine innovation and usefulness. Only 1% of the 2,000 French consumers surveyed by Deloitte own a smart thermostat, 2% a smart watch and 3% a fitness tracker. Moreover, the connected objects that have achieved the highest degree of market penetration – games consoles (18%) and smart televisions (14%) – have basically not done so because of their connected functionality. We have had such equipment in our living rooms for a long time now.

Etude Deloitte - graphique de la pénétration des objets connectés

The most innovative items, such as smart watches and fitness trackers, have mainly been adopted by tech-savvy people. Some 15% of users fall into this category. (Source: ‘A Game of Phones’ – Deloitte survey among French mobile device users)

Although connected objects have been much talked about, they have still not really caught on in France. ‟The trend is definitely there, but sales are slower than companies were hoping for,” underlines Alexandre Buselli.

Health sector spearheading connected object use

The most promising area for connected devices is the health and well-being sector, especially as regards amateur sportsmen and women. Connected objects enable sportspeople to obtain lots of biometric data such as their heartbeat and exercise performance, plus comparative info on other athletes. ‟Use of apps is growing slowly but surely,” points out Alexandre Buselli. However, many other types of health-related apps are now appearing. ‟Safety and security for older people could also become a major market. Apps could be designed to monitor whether the user is taking his or her medicine on time and to send an alert whenever a problem arises,” Buselli explains. Unlike the devices currently available, connected objects will be able to react autonomously to the data they receive so as for example to encourage users to drink a glass of water, remind them to take their prescribed medicine and send an SMS to family or carers if the situation is looking dangerous.
At the present time, B2B uses and benefits to companies of connected object use are often clearer than those for the general public. ‟The smart interactive electricity meter Linky is in fact more useful for [French electricity distribution network operator] ERDF than for the customer, as it enables data to be submitted in real time and helps to save the company time,” explains Alexandre Buselli. The main benefit of such connected objects is to make it easy to collect masses of data on consumers, just as with smartphones, but of course for this to happen, people have to actually use them.
By Marie Jung
Journaliste indépendante