By Sarah Falson

COOLUM, Qld: Manufacturers can rest easy with the knowledge that gadget convergence won’t affect their businesses, as electronics-merging has reached its peak, a technology analyst predicted today at the 2007 Kickstart Forum held at the Hyatt Regency Coolum.

In 2006 Australian households spent $5 billion more than the year before, which has much to do with component-buying, said IDC analyst, Liam Gunson.

“Too much confusion can paralyse consumer take-up of technology,” he said.

“[With cellphones], manufacturers worry too much about technology, and packing in as much as they can, but consumers are going to buy them anyway.”

According to IDC research, 70 per cent of Australian homes owned at least one mobile phone with a built-in camera at the end of last year.

The research also found that internet access, Bluetooth, 3G and camera-capabilities are added to mobile handsets to set brands apart on retail shelves rather than to answer consumers’ needs.

“Putting more technology into phones makes us buy them,” said Gunson.

“It’s good for manufacturers because it sets them apart from their competitors, but consumers will buy cellphones regardless of their capabilities.”

However, the digital camera category was the fourth largest in terms of household penetration in 2006, showing that many consumers don’t see mobile phone and camera consolidation as an answer to the problem caused by too many components.

“There’s so much choice out there and choice is good,” said Gunson.

“You walk in to a retail store and see [GPS devices, cellphones and cameras]. This won’t change – we won’t see one device doing everything.”