Tablets, Apps Lead Trends At CES Preview
January 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM (PT)
Tablets were the lead story at the annual press preview presentation for the INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER ELECTRONIC SHOW in LAS VEGAS TUESDAY (1/4), where Chief Economist and Dir. of Research SHAWN DUBRAVAC and Senior Research Analyst BEN ARNOLD of the CONSUMER ELECTRONICS ASSOCIATION delivered the CEA's annual trends report and "things to look for" at this year's event.
Touting the industry's successes in the past few years, including e-readers, Internet set-top boxes, smartphones, apps, and automotive systems, all of which gained traction in the marketplace after being highlighted in previous CES trends reports, DUBRAVAC and ARNOLD outlined four themes for this year's show, including:
1. Portable vs pocketable: The void in the screen size spectrum between pocketable devices like cell phones and larger devices like laptops has become a "battlefield" in the last year due to the explosion in the tablet and e-reader categories. The CEA forecasts tablet sales nearly doubling in 2011 while e-readers are expected to ship almost 20 million units this year. The CEA expects that differentiation of tablets through form factor, pricing, and operating system; new use-case scenarios; addition of cameras and accelerometers; and the addition of color, games, and other features to "close cousins" like e-readers will be sub-themes at the show this year.
2. The intelligence of things: Connectivity of mobile devices to other devices to add "smart" capabilities to "dumb" devices, adding Internet capability or control to TVs, cars, and everything from games to meat thermometers.
3. Miniaturization and "Sensor"-ization: Sensors have, the CEA notes, become cheap and included in more devices. Microphones, cameras, accelerometers, capacitive touch screens, gyroscopes, and other sensors are being included in more devices, allowing app developers to add capability to their software. DUBRAVAC noted that MICROSOFT's Kinect may be one of the fastest-selling debut products ever and is a "bunch of sensors."
4. "From Ampliication to 'App'lication:" ARNOLD said that the explosion of apps "is a trend in itself." He noted that the software trend has moved from packaged software to downloads to cloud computing and now apps; a study showed 55% of mobile device users saying they use apps, with music tied for third place at 32%. ARNOLD said that shopping apps, lowly-ranked at 14%, are expected to jump with the emergence of barcode-scanning apps. In addition, 50% of users said they are "likely or very likely" to use apps to stream music and video content from the web, second only to banking apps.
In a question-and-answer session after the presentation, DUBRAVAC declined to estimate how much the increase in tablet sales will cannibalize notebook sales. He said that tablet sales will increase from about 17 million to just under 30 million worldwide in 2011.