Connected devices are set to take centre stage at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas, whilst smartphones will continue to underwhelm with a lack of innovation, according to CCS Insight.
The technology analyst firm is predicting connected devices, especially wearables, the connected home and connected cars will be the biggest draw at the show.
CCS Insight is forecasting sales of wearable devices will hit 135 million units by 2018, most of which will be wrist based with over 40 million smartwatches and fitness bandsset to be sold in 2015
However, Ben Wood, CCS Insight's Chief of Research, warned that manufacturers need to raise their design game to stay competitive. He said: ‘This year's show will see wearables hype reaching stratospheric levels buoyed by the looming arrival of the Apple Watch. The biggest challenge manufacturers must solve is how to make wearable devices more appealing to the average consumer. We need to move beyond ugly black plastic devices designed by middle-aged male engineers. Wearables should be comfortable and fashionable, and I'm expecting some high-profile partnerships between technology companies and fashion brands to come out of CES.’
CCS Insight is also predicting the connected home and connected cars will take pole position in the Internet of Things at CES this year. Its surveys show that the average UK household now has more than 10 connected devices. This is forecast to rise to 15 connected devices by 2019. CCS Insight also expects that in 2019 over 80% of new automobiles will have some form of integrated connectivity. However Martin Garner, CCS Insight's SVP, Internet, warned that a lack of common infrastructure and standards is making progress painfully slow.
Garner said: ‘The whole arena continues to expand, but a grand vision remains elusive. The market's being held back by immature products, fragmented standards and ill-defined ideas about how we should be using connected things.
‘With all this uncertainty there's an opportunity for Apple and Google to seize the moment thanks more to the strength of their brands than because of the technical superiority of their systems.’
The connected automobile is set to be another big draw at the show with CCS Insight predicting all leading carmakers to use CES to show off the next generation of connected vehicles. However these companies need to make tough decisions about whether to sign deals with Apple and Google or pursue their own approach, Garner said, adding: ‘While Android Auto and Apple CarPlay might appeal to many car buyers, we question whether an experience similar to that offered by a smartphone is best suited to a driver's needs. And automobile makers will be reluctant to cede control of the user experience when differentiation is so critical to how they market their cars.’
Smartphones will offer few if any stand out products, CCS Insight forecasts, although Samsung is expected to use the show to launch its fightback. The analyst firm said: 'With smartphones and tablets now centred on seemingly identical touch-screen slab designs, CCS Insight expects few ground-breaking developments in this area. Once again Android will be the dominant operating system for new devices as the ascendency of Chinese manufacturers continues apace, producing an avalanche of MediaTek-powered Android smartphones and tablets.
Thinner devices with larger screens will provide the only glimmer of innovation. Despite the apparently gloomy environment, market leader Samsung will come out fighting, using its keynote presentation at CES to underline its determination to shake off its current woes.'