Universal remote control functionality has emerged as the top feature for buyers looking to upgrade to new smartphone, says a global survey from Peel, a California-based company funded by ecommerce giant Alibaba.
As per the survey, 58 percent users rated remote control capabilities way ahead of mobile payment capabilities that scored 19 percent, finger print sensors (13 percent) and heart rate monitors (10 percent) as the feature they would be “most likely to use.”
Smartphone users in India expressed keen interest in remote control features, with 84 percent of respondents saying they were an “important” factor in their decision to purchase a new smartphone, just behind China (89 percent) and South Korea (85 percent). In the U.S., 52 percent said it was an important factor in their next smartphone purchase.
“While they have emerged globally as a major new use case for smartphones, universal remote capabilities are even more desirable in countries such as India because of the wider range of devices they can control in the home such as air conditioners, ceiling fans and heaters,” said Peel co-founder and CEO Thiru Arunachalam.
When asked to choose just one new feature to be available on their smartphone, 41 percent of the respondents from India chose “controlling their TV, etc. with IR remote,” followed by mobile payment capabilities (29 percent), fingerprint sensors (24 percent) and heart rate monitors (7 percent).
In contrast, European smartphone owners surveyed by Peel appeared less aware of or interested in smart remote options with mobile payments ranking ahead of remote control features, followed by fingerprint sensors and heart rate monitors as influencing purchase decisions.
Where on one hand, IR remote capabilities are available in the U.S. and other developed nations only on high-end phones such as the Galaxy S and Note series from Samsung or the HTC One M8 and M9, yet on the other, several manufacturers in China, including Xiaomi, ZTE and TCL, and in India (Celkon, Panasonic, Alcatel OneTouch, Xolo) have begun to offer Android phones with advanced IR capabilities for as little as Rs.3199, including the recently announced A35K Remote from Celkon.
The Peel Smart Remote has become the most popular app globally taking advantage of IR capabilities, with more than 115 million registered users who have generated over 100 billion remote commands to date, the report said.
While Apple so far has chosen not to include an IR port on any of its competing phones or tablets, two in five iPhone users surveyed said they would be interested in the same remote capabilities enjoyed by Android users.
Peel makes it easy for Indian consumers to switch to a smartphone remote because it works with all popular brands of TVs and air conditioners sold in India, and 600 set-top boxes, including those from Airtel, Tata Sky, Dish TV, Hathway, DEN and Siti Cable. For Indian consumers, Peel features TV listings from WhatsOnIndia. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Peel with users doubling every six months.
The use of smartphones to control the home is expected to continue to increase in popularity as more consumers add Internet connected household devices such as thermostats, plugs and lighting. Many believe that remote control will emerge as one of the valuable use cases driving the adoption of smart watches as well.