This Christmas, the prospect of shiny tablet computers and smartphones shine brighter than tinsel or baubles, it seems. But you can beat cold hard cash. New surveys reveal boys and men are hoping for gadgets while women, generally being more pragmatic souls, prefer money as a gift.
A new Europe-wide survey by Microsoft’s MSN has shown that 49pc of Irish males are hoping for smartphones, PCs and tablets under the tree, while one in three (34pc) of females are keeping their fingers crossed for cash or gift vouchers. The poll, which was conducted across more than 10,000 respondents in 12 countries, also showed that Irish families most desire a traditional Christmas, but that technology will play a key part in making that happen.
More than half (55pc) will spend time with family, and 11pc will be spending the holidays alone or away from family. Ten per cent plan on greeting friends and family via video chat – due to travel or distance issues.
Some 70pc of Irish consumers will watch films and TV during the Christmas break – which is the highest in Europe – and 52pc will play board and video games to entertain themselves and friends.
Christmas cards are still the favourite way for Irish families to express their best wishes. But one in four (25pc) are planning to send Christmas messages to their family and friends via social media. Some 72pc will pop a card in the post, and almost half (47pc) will send text messages.
After physical cards (77pc) and phone calls (32pc), text messaging will be the most popular way for those over age 60 to send their Christmas greetings, with 23pc sending messages this way. Thirteen per cent plan to use video chat.
“Technology can make things more convenient, but that certainly doesn’t mean communicating and interacting with friends and family has to be impersonal,” said Orla Sheridan, Entertainment & Devices division manager, Microsoft Ireland.
“Some people worry that we spend too much time looking at screens as opposed to looking at each other, but I think the survey shows that technology is invaluable in keeping families and friends close, even when they can’t be together,” Sheridan added. “And with the advent of natural user interfaces – like we see with Kinect for Xbox – it makes it easy for the whole family to have fun together.”
When it comes to gift-giving over the holidays, technology ranks high on consumers’ wish lists. When asked, “What would you be most excited to receive this holiday season?”:
- 32pc said gift vouchers, followed by 30pc citing technology devices, such as smartphones, PCs and tablets
- 19pc said clothes (20pc men, 19pc women)
- 11pc said jewelry/watch (4pc of men, 13pc of women)
- 8pc per cent said health and beauty products (3pc of men, 11pc of women)
So, what gadgets top the wish list this Christmas?
A poll conducted by California opinion-based social community SodaHead.com appears to tie in with the Microsoft findings in some respects. While electronics like the iPad 2, Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are objects of desire, the need for cold hard cash reigns supreme.
According to the poll, 39pc of respondents are hoping for cash or a gift card, higher than all other gift types, including vacations (30pc), electronics (21pc) and clothes/jewelry (10pc).
As the tablet wars heat up and consumers are presented with dozens of iOS and Android-based options, the clear winner on consumer’s holiday wish lists is the Apple iPad2, as 65pc of those wanting a tablet hope to receive the top-selling device on the market.
The latest entrants in the tablet market from Amazon and Barnes & Noble have not yet made a significant impact, as only 24pc of respondents are hoping to receive a Kindle Fire and 11pc desire the recently announced Nook Tablet.
When it comes to gifts that most consumers think kids would like to receive, video games top the list with 51pc, followed by computers (32pc), toys/games (10pc) and movies/music (8pc).
Even though the iPad 2 is leading the tablet pack, Apple’s tablet is not the top overall tech choice for the holidays, as 39pc of respondents hope to receive an iPhone 4S, compared to 31pc hoping for an iPad2. The Amazon Kindle Fire is the tech item of choice for 17pc of respondents and 13pc are hoping Santa brings Xbox Kinect down the chimney.
With millions of smartphones and tablets in the hands of consumers across the world, many may think an app might make a good (and easy) present. However, according to poll respondents, 59pc think apps do not make a good gift, while 41pc feel apps are a great gift idea.
While consumers were responding to the SodaHead poll regarding what gifts they would like to receive, they also revealed they do, in fact, think the holidays have become "too materialistic." While 74pc of respondents think the holidays have become more about gifts than family and faith, an even larger 80pc still admit they love the holiday season (as only 20pc are saying "bah humbug!).