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Survey: Even Skeptics Are Embracing Technology

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Nov. 9, 2005--Faced with evermore user-friendly features and expanded capabilities, a growing number of consumers are embracing technology -- and that's been a boon to small companies able to capitalize on the rise in popularity.

More than a quarter of consumers say they have become "much more accepting" of technology over the past year, according to a Harris Interactive study released on Nov. 8. What's making them converts? Sixty percent of shoppers found new products easier to use and install, and more than half said that these factors greatly influence their purchases.

Analysts expect the greatest demand to emerge for high-end home entertainment products and portable entertainment technology, especially cell phones and cameras. And smaller companies that make accessories and specialty electronics of their own are seeing significant gains, particularly as the holiday season approaching.

"These results may suggest that the number of early technology adopters is on the rise," Joe Porus, a researcher with Roches, N.Y.-based Harris, said in a statement. According to Porus, usability improvements have encouraged consumers to buy tech gadgets earlier in the product lifecycle.

Almost 40% of the survey's 1,174 respondents said they plan to purchase major home technology products within the next six months. In addition, 44% intend to purchase mobile gadgets.

"Clearly this trend will benefit businesses that make related technology, like cables for high definition television and specialty accessories," said Jay McIntosh, director of retail and consumer products with Ernst & Young in New York. What's more, McIntosh said, price competition is much less intense for accessories, allowing fatter profit margins.

As sales of consumer electronics have soared, savvy small businesses are continuing to piggyback on that success. Take New York-based Voltaic. Founded in 2003, Voltaic makes backpacks that store solar energy to recharge iPods, BlackBerries, digital cameras, and other portable devices. Voltaic's founder, Shayn McQuade, said third quarter sales of the $239 backpacks have already doubled sales achieved in the first half of 2005.

Edge Tech Corporation of Dallas, has taken a similar tact in designing an array of accessories for tech gadgets. Among the most popular is an iPod docking station that allows people to use home and car stereos to play music stored on iPods.

"We've seen a lot of demand for digital accessories," said Kelly Kincaid, vice president of business development for Edge Tech. "We added the iPod docking station specifically to drive some business from the market for portable music. But we're also seeing continued strong demand for our USB flash drives and memory cards."





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