Morgan Stanley
  • Technology
  • Dec 12, 2018

Are You Driven to Distraction?

As people unplug from an over-abundance of technology, could investors tap into a new opportunity?

It’s a curious paradox, but could digital be the cure for our tech-addiction?

People today are more connected and more overwhelmed than ever before, thanks to the interconnectedness of multimedia, accelerating technology and the ever-present universal sounding board of the internet.

Paradoxically, some people are finding a way to disconnect themselves via the same technology that has driven them to distraction.    

Referred to as an ‘Unexpected Market’, the demand for technological solutions to digital distraction is an extension of the now familiar wellness industry.

Astronomical growth in wellness-related markets has allowed previously niche services and products – such as yoga[i], meditation and mindfulness – to claim a place in the mainstream[ii] of consumerism. Sensing opportunity, innovators and entrepreneurs decided to take the self-improvement buzz and revive it in the form of a tech-savvy incarnation where profit meets positivity.


[i] Yoga is Australia’s fastest-growing sporting or fitness activity, with its popularity more than doubling since 2008 and at least one in 10 Australians aged 14+ now participating in the activity, according to research from Roy Morgan.

[ii] ‘Alternative Health Therapies - Australia Market Research Report.’ IBISWorld. March, 2018.

Smartphones are even becoming a presence in traditionally laid-back settings where relaxation would normally take a priority, such as lazy weekend breakfasts. According to Roy Morgan research data from March 2018, 8,390,000 Australians aged over 14 cited either social media or the ‘general internet’ as their preferred media source at breakfast time on the weekends. [iii]


Outsmarting the smart phone

Apps offering soothing sounds, ancient meditation techniques and mindfulness tips now take up a significant space in the commercial nexus where self-improvement, productivity and wellness coincide. Also accessible via our smartphones are similarly themed downloadable ibooks, recordings and podcasts.

More practical tech solutions to the same distraction dilemma include apps that force people to take a moment to breathe, websites that block us from websites that we visit habitually, apps that clean out email inboxes and notifications that remind us to take time away from staring at a screen.    

The business of getting hooked on tech

Our reliance on technologies like smartphones has a very real part to play in the world of investing. 

The valuations of some of the world’s biggest technology firms have been built around their ability to capture and hold our attention. That ability has been effectively monetised by advertisers who are more than willing to part with large sums of money in order to access a captive audience. 

In this context it may seem counter-intuitive for tech companies to invest in innovations designed to interfere with their ability to sustain the rapt attention of the masses. Losing their hold on consumer attention could have huge financial implications.    

By embracing the thriving ‘Solutions to Distraction Market’, app developers and entrepreneurs are attempting to use technology to solve the problems that the same technology has created. .

By offering up a suggested solution that is delivered through the addictive medium itself, have clever tech minds pre-empted a move against our reliance on digital devices? And will the strategy work to ease society’s growing concerns about smartphone proliferation?    

Only time will tell.    


For more information on investment opportunities in the technology or communications sector, speak to your Morgan Stanley financial adviser. Plus, more Ideas