Content is king as consumer digital spending shifts away from devices: IDC

digital spending
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Consumer spending on digital devices, services, and content will reach $3.4 trillion worldwide in 2020, rising 4.7% annually from 2015, with more and more of that digital spending going to content and services rather than devices, according to a new forecast from IDC.

The share of consumer digital spending on devices will fall from 28% in 2015 to only 22% by 2020, while consumer spending on digital content will rise at a 12.6% annual clip. Digital services, however, will maintain its 61% share of consumer digital spending by growing 4.9% annually.

While total consumer digital spending is going up, the nature of the spend is changing. For example, just as consumers shift spending towards digital content, consumers worldwide are moving digital spending towards online media and away from entertainment devices. Consumer spending on online media will grow 12.6% from 2015 to 2020. Spending on digital communications devices and services will grow at a mere 1.6% annual rate as consumer spending on voice services, both fixed and mobile, declines in absolute terms from 2015 to 2020.

“Clearly the value of the devices is derived primarily as conduits for the content and services that they transport and the applications that they enable,” said Jonathan Gaw, research manager for IDC’s newly launched Consumer Spending Priorities: Tech and Services program.

Much of the change in consumer spending categories is driven by regions outside of the US, where the shift among spending categories continues but is largely complete and the share of spending by solution type is largely stable. In developing countries, however, consumer spending on digital content and services, versus devices, is still gaining, while online media spending also increases in wallet share.

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