- Zen Pin Liow
The consumer electronics industry is where the future is happening!
IoT, AI, & virtual reality are game changers in people’s quest for smarter lives
Smart TVs, smart homes, smartphones, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), connected cars — the consumer electronics (CE) industry has permeated every aspect of human life. Largely driven by consumers’ desire for newer, bigger, and improved capabilities, this sector is constantly looking for technologies, innovations, or products that not only capture the people’s imagination but are affordable and relevant to solving day-to-day problems.
The outlook for the consumer electronics industry is not always rosy. For every successful product, there are many failed prototypes. The industry faces several challenges such as obsolete technologies, impatient consumers, slowing demand for products, and technology adoption. This blog looks at some challenges, and discusses the emerging trends in the industry.
Challenges in the CE industry
The smartphone revolution is officially over. Since 2016, there is a lull in the global demand for smartphones. After decades of high growth, thanks in part to smartphone penetration in India (80%) and China (89%), this segment is bracing for sluggish growth. Consumers are content with their existing phones and reluctant to upgrade to newer models.
Slow growth rates aren’t confined to the smartphone segment only. Others too have been affected by consumer reluctance. Until these segments come up with out-of-the-box offerings, this situation is expected to persist.
New trends in the CE industry
AI is coming to stores near you
AI is becoming ubiquitous across all industries — education, healthcare, marketing, telecommunication, transportation, etc. Technology providers are focusing on three key areas: advanced analytics, autonomous business processes, and AI-powered immersive, conversational, and continuous interfaces.
Customer service and experience is a critical area impacted by AI. Gartner expects that by 2018, some of the world’s largest companies will deploy intelligent apps and Big Data analytics to refine their offerings to improve customer experience (CX). With natural language processing and machine learning, businesses can harness AI to mimic human speech patterns to provide better customer experience without human intervention.
Have you played Pokémon GO yet?
The wildly popular game Pokémon GO was based on augmented reality (AR). Its success made businesses see the potential of AR technology in engaging with consumers through entertainment and gamification. Similarly, Apple, Google, and Lenovo plan to launch next-generation smartphones with hardware-level AR in 2018. Depth-sensing camera lenses and physical environment mapping systems are being prioritized. With the necessary hardware ready, businesses can be confident that consumers will hop on!
Like AR, virtual reality (VR) is making rapid strides. A prominent retailer has launched a VR store, which allows customers to wander around various malls virtually. Other well-known retailers are also embracing the VR wave. Beyond retailers, push for VR will come from diverse sectors, such as entertainment, video games, and fashion. However, beware that the success of VR in business depends on the convergence of investment, hardware, software, and content.
Honey, did you forget to lock the house?
Smart homes are the new buzzword, as household appliance manufacturers are integrating IoT technologies with products to connect customers with their homes. No longer do you need to worry whether you switched off all devices while leaving home. You can also monitor household devices with your smartphone.
Look Ma, I got a smart TV!
With demand booming for smart homes, can the humble television be left behind? A smart TV is a combination of a TV and a computer and has integrated functions for browsing. According to a report, 48.5% of sets shipped globally were smart TVs. This is estimated to reach 134 million by 2020. Smart TV users can access popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Consumer preference for smarter built-in functions and improved broadband speeds are driving demand. Who would have thought that the idiot box will be used to check email, browse Facebook, and stream videos? Can you imagine what the future holds?
Dude, where’s my car?
In the 2000 Hollywood comedy Dude, Where’s My Car, two misfits attempt to remember where they last parked their car. But now, this need not happen. You can access this information on your smartphone. Car manufacturers are using onboard sensors and Internet connectivity to improve a car’s ability to connect with the world to enhance customer comfort and safety. By 2020, the global value of the connected car components and services market is estimated at over $150 billion. A connected car is cost-effective, improves ease of use, and is safer than normal cars. Despite obvious benefits, consumers are not entirely sold on them. Digital safety and data privacy are major concerns. Overpricing and fears of hacking also hinder wholesome adoption of the technology. A McKinsey survey found that most consumers expressed unwillingness to pay extra for a connected car. Only 21% said they would pay for subscription-based connectivity services.
These trends in the consumer electronics industry are by no means exhaustive. Having said that, these are exciting times for the industry. While there is a general slowdown in smartphone penetration, and a downtick in IoT technology adoption, there’s a lot of promise in the smart homes, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and connected cars segments. With shifting consumer preferences and fast-changing technology, businesses need to tread carefully. Analyze the growth opportunities in your business and take the leap!