CES 2014 has officially come and gone, and the dust is now settling. We’ve been monitoring the coverage of the show and have rounded up some highlights to share with you. The big trends at CES this year were refinements of the trends we’ve been seeing in the past couple of years at CES – gadgets are wearable, hardware is flexible, and HD TVs are reaching new heights of resolution.
- Wearable tech
- Thanks to modest success of the Kickstarter-based Pebble smartwatch, the smartwatch category is heating up. Pebble has revealed the next evolution of their smartwatch, called the Pebble Steel, boasting a sleek new metallic look and tons of news apps. New smartwatches were also introduced by industry giants like Intel and a long roster of upstarts. Click here to read Macrumors.com’s excellent rundown of the smartwatches of CES.
- The Nike+ FuelBand has led the way into a new era of trackable, measurable fitness. A major story in this category is the new “Core” SmartBand from Sony, touted as “possibly the smallest device Sony has ever made.” The company hopes to develop the band into a full fitness tracking platform. A number of smaller organizations have thrown their hats into the wearable fitness ring as well. Click here to read more about fitness wearables at CES.
- Flexible hardware
- Bendable phones have been around for a couple of years at CES, but Samsung has upped the ante this year with a prototype 85-inch television which is bendable by remote control. Along with bendability, the merits of a curved or flexible screen are also being promoted in the smartphone category by companies like LG and Nokia.
- Ultra HD
- In the inexorable march towards photorealistic entertainment, companies are now pushing a higher standard of 4K resolution HD into the market. In 2013, an estimated 60,000 TVs with Ultra HD were sold around the world, and industry experts expect this number to rise steadily as prices drop and more 4K sets become available. This claim might be met with some skepticism, particularly with Samsung revealing a massive 110-inch set that costs a whopping $150,000, but sets like that are not exactly a bellwether for the majority of the category. A clearer indication that this new resolution is gaining mainstream traction is the fact that Amazon and Netflix are pushing to stream Ultra HD content that accommodates the newer sets.
Given that the major stories of CES this year have been evolutions of previously offered products, there has been some forecasting that the consumer electronics category will contract due to either a lack of innovation, or low volume of adoption for innovative products. Compared to the mobile device boom of recent years, consumer electronics revenue will likely trend downwards in 2014 while the industry waits for products like Ultra HD TVs and wearable technology to gain traction with consumers. A little further into the future, things look brighter – here are some forecasts from IHS, Inc.:
IHS now predicts 38.5 million UHD LCD TV sets will ship in 2018, up from 1.5 million in 2013, according to the TV Systems Intelligence Service at IHS. Shipments will fly up more than 500 percent to reach 10 million in 2014. However, UHD sets still have a long way to go before they command a major share of the overall market. In 2018, UHD will account for only about 16 percent of all LCD TV shipments.
Global market shipments of wearable devices for infotainment applications will grow to 130.7 million units in 2018, up from 51.2 million in 2013. The infotainment segment consists of products including Bluetooth headsets, head-up displays, imaging products, smart glasses and smart watches.
At The Douglas Stewart Company, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the infotainment segment, particularly in the Bluetooth-enabled category. Click here to check out our current selection of Bluetooth offerings, and watch your inbox for our New Product emails and New Product Guides to find out what exciting tech we’ll be onboarding in 2014.