I have seen my share of New Year’s predictions this year with most being overly general and not very insightful. How can you not be right saying that social media will continue to change the world? Now, I am no industry analyst but I would like to throw my hat into the ring, and share the items that I think will be impactful to the consumer electronics (CE) space in 2012:
1. New user interfaces (UI’s) will start changing the way we interact with CE products. Apple has shown us a cloud based voice interface named Siri and Microsoft has enabled gesture based input via the Xbox Kinect. These technologies have been around for some time but Apple and Microsoft have taken them mainstream. I don’t expect that we will be talking to our toasters this year, but I do expect these improved UI technologies to be leveraged for the best possible TV user experience later in 2012.(I am truly salivating over this one as my wife always messes up my remotes).
2. Social Media Analytics is Social Media 2.o. Everyone has seen that Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have had significant impacts in liberating countries and we all should continue to expect to see these social media tools continue to improve the free movement of information everywhere. (I also believe that personal VPNs like Anchorfree (www.anchorfree.com) will significantly increase the free movement of information). The next step in social media engagement is to integrate tools like SocialRep (www.socialrep.com) into the marketing process to leverage the vast pool of knowledge on the web to set brand and product strategies for companies moving forward. Consumer Electronics companies that engage in social media in this way will win.
3. Audio is more important than ever. Beats by Dr. Dre transformed the headphone industry by showing that lifestyle and the promise of improved audio for mobile devices is important to the general consumer. We should all expect further growth in this segment as new celebrities enter the frey (SMS Audio by 50 Cent is our client) but also because the ever increasing number of smartphones and tablets require a better headset experience to show off their true multimedia capabilities in delivering music and video. I would expect that all smartphones moving forward will improve the quality of their in-box headsets much like HTC and Beats are doing today.
4. The CE fitness market will get traction. Everything is finally coming together, Bluetooth low power capability for all types of sensors, low cost MP3 functionality, well designed, ruggedized, waterproof / sweat proof industrial designs and intelligent cloud based systems that coach, track and record everything you do. And this is not just for better workouts, this technology will allow us to monitor our vital functions all the time for better health.
5. Brick and Mortar CE retailers will continue to struggle to add consumer value. Walmart has huge scale and touts the lowest price. Amazon and their 3rd party ecosystem has cataloged a huge inventory of CE products, has over 100M customers in the US and enables mobile apps for you to price shop while standing in a brick and mortar store. Apple retail has incredible products and an in-store experience making it not just a store, it’s a destination. Outside of these extremely well positioned retailers / etailers, there will be significant instability. We have already seen industry giants like Circuit City and regionals like Ultimate Electronics fail due to lack of in-store consumer value, and Best Buy now struggles. If you cannot find a way to add significant value in store, the price leaders will kill you. Expect more fallout in 2012.
Look forward to seeing you at CES in one week to get a better picture of what to expect this year. What CE trends do you believe we will see in 2012?