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Five Trends to Watch in 2012

An annual consumer electronics technology trend-watch for 2012 holds few surprises. “Consumer electronics are driving technological change” is the gist of the press release, but there are a few items worth highlighting for the electronics industry.

The first trend from the survey, conducted by {complink 5926|Verizon Communications Inc.}, is worth skipping. It says technology is making everything mobile, consumer-driven content is exploding on sites such as YouTube, and the work/home boundaries are becoming blurred.

Here are the trends worth noting, with some additional analysis:

More Shelf Space

It's why you'll have more shelf space that's important. Physical belongings, from CDs to books to pictures, are evaporating into the cloud, and even hard drives are slimming down. For the most part, consumers could care less about jargon or the title of “the cloud.” They just want out-of-the-box experiences for ones that used to be more complex — and since that's happening at a faster pace, we'll continue to see less clutter and more virtual shelves.

It is true that fewer CDs are cluttering the shelves, and the number of devices consumers are buying is skyrocketing. Many consumers own a PC, a smartphone, and a tablet, all of which do many of the same things. Let's not forget the gaming system, as well. Eventually, these devices will converge into a single unit, but until then, the electronics market isn't going to shoot itself in the foot by bringing the “uber-device” to market anytime soon. Overall, this is good news for the supply chain.

Value of High-IQ Networks

The average American home will go from having about four connected devices to double that by 2014. Many of the Verizon employees who were polled in an informal survey far exceeded that number. With each new smart device or app, the value of the network that connects and enables them increases exponentially. The quality of the network will become increasingly relevant and “cool,” which results in better user experiences for those who choose wisely.

When Verizon says “value,” what it really means is “cost.” Every box, every remote, every connection, and almost every service has a fee embedded in it somewhere. Again, there's no incentive for manufacturers to converge consumer electronics into a single device or a centralized “control room” as long as companies are able to sell lots of stuff. Nor is there any incentive for the service providers to do so. “Choose wisely” is good advice.

What's That You're Watching?

The old model of home entertainment is dead. Video is appearing everywhere — from movies on tablets to video conferences (both gabbing teens and on-the-go executives). New infrastructure, apps, and partnerships will be formed to meet the growing demand.

I see this as one of the few positive trends. However, once again, watch for those fees. On-demand programming is convenient and means you are not tied to one place and time to view a program. Did we mention you can do this while being mobile?

Digital Door Locks

No need to call a locksmith. We're talking about securing consumers' virtual valuables (identity and personal information). Today's anything, anywhere access underscores what Internet security experts have been saying for years: Security has to be everyone's responsibility. Even the basics aren't cared for in some instances; in fact many people still don't have a password on their home routers and don't encrypt important communications. A proliferation of tools and services will help make consumers more security conscious.

Actually, it's not the tools and services that will make things secure. It's consumer practices. Don't get frightened into buying more of these tools and services — most already exist.

Easy Green

Who doesn't want to help save the environment and save money in the process? Smart energy management is going mainstream, and consumers will increasingly rely on a variety of plug-and-play devices — from smart thermostats to lights that know you're walking into the room and light up — to monitor and control energy usage. This will lead to lower energy costs. A recent government study found people curbed their energy use once they had the means to monitor and adjust their usage.

It's not that easy yet, but consumer electronics are getting more energy efficient, as are homes and grids. This will remain a growth industry for the supply chain. The key will be ease of use. It will be imperative that a plug-and-play solution is developed for the electronic devices, the controllers, and the interfaces that connect homes and businesses to the grid.

48 comments on “Five Trends to Watch in 2012

  1. AnalyzeThis
    November 15, 2011

    Actually, it's not the tools and services that will make things secure. It's consumer practices. Don't get frightened into buying more of these tools and services — most already exist.

    This is a very good point. Outside of anti-virus/anti-malware software, it's a little questionable how much of an actual need there is for additional “virtual security.”

    Sure, there are a variety of additional services which will do things like offer to manage all your passwords and personal information and things like that, but in my opinion these are all things you either don't really need or which in the end do not make you any more secure (and in some instances may actually make you less secure).

    And I do think the mainstream has become a little more savvy when it comes to technology… still a long ways to go, but seeing open Wi-Fi networks in residential areas is far less common than it used to be, for instance.

  2. bolaji ojo
    November 15, 2011

    Barbara, Many companies are playing up the energy angle in their offerings now. But it's not just OEMs that are involved in redefining what companies are into. Companies like Verizon conduct the research your blog reviewed because they are expanding their operations into new areas. For instance, Verizon, a phone company, is now into the home monitoring business. It now has a service for home monitoring via video-over-IP. You can monitor your house on your smartphone over a Verizon network. This is here now. And you are right, it comes down to finding a way for these companies to make more money.

  3. _hm
    November 15, 2011

    Will Apple introducce more innovative Apple TV in 2012? This will provide totally new user experience. I wish to see new trends as defined by Apple technology.

     

  4. Daniel
    November 16, 2011

    Hm, like Apple TV most of us are interested to know about Google TV also. We are expecting some other good and innovate products from Google.

  5. FLYINGSCOT
    November 16, 2011

    I agree with the survey that suppliers are keen to see consumers buy a variety of different devices that can be used as vehicles to pay for subscriptions or services.  It is not so much the hardware anymore that makes the cash, it is the service charge.

  6. saranyatil
    November 16, 2011

    Yes many are expecting Apple and Google TV this year but i am keen on looking at the application apple and google may come up with.

  7. saranyatil
    November 16, 2011

    Not directly but atleast indirectly now all the electronic users are very conscious in conserving power.

    Before even they buy they check the rating on the power side, Solar power is also picking up. there may be many updates and news on solar panel manufacturing ideas and setting up research and devlopments.

    Home lighting powering up gadgets using solar cells etc has been constant trials. this would emerge as a big trend for the future.

  8. bolaji ojo
    November 16, 2011

    It's interesting that many companies are hoping Apple will jump into the TV business this year. These include TV manufacturers who hope Apple will spark increased demand for TVs. Research firm iSuppli came out recently with a report in which it asked: Can Apple Breathe New Life into the Moribund TV Market?

    That's a lot to heap on one single company. However, Apple re-energized and transformed the tablet market. Perhaps it can do the same here.

  9. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 16, 2011

    We are so much focussed on the consumer electronics products like Smartphones & Tabletswe that we are ignoring one of the important and essential branch of elctronics and that is medical diagnostic and healthcare devices. Many of these devices which were only an expensive  lab equipment are now becoming household gadgets.  I believe so much innovation is happening in these areas that I wish one of our Bloggers will cover it some day.

  10. Jay_Bond
    November 16, 2011

    This was an excellent and informative article that brings up some serious questions people need to ask themselves. Like how much is all of this worth to individuals? Like you said, most households have multiple devices and in the next few years those numbers should double. With all the content out there that people crave, there is still a price tag. At what point will individuals drop certain items to replace them with possible cheaper alternatives? Or is money no object for some people to get what they want and be happy?

  11. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 16, 2011

    Excellent point, Bolaji, about Verizon and home monitoring. Now that you mention it, I recall seeing material on this. I'm still a little unclear on how the system works–does it require some kind of box? (Always looking for the hardware angle.) Good fodder for a follow-up.

     

  12. Barbara Jorgensen
    November 16, 2011

    @prabhakar–funny you should mention medical. On a related note, I have been spending a lot of time with my dentist, who invested in CAD/CAM equipment that creates simple crown and a machine that carves the crown out of a block of substrate. Since I am practically a member of the staff there (lots of dental work this year) I got to watch the process. Lots of interesting electronics stuff, not to mention supply chain implications–making the crowns in the office cuts the labs out of the equation. Anyway, I'm going to do additional research and blog on this. The medical/dental/home medical possibilities are endless.

  13. Himanshugupta
    November 16, 2011

    @saranyatil, interestingly i was discussing about the solar among colleagues and one of whom has recently completed PhD in solar. He said that the problem with solar is the lack of funding both from government and industry. We hear a lot about the solar but when he actually tried to search a job in the solar field then he was disappointed to not get even one call from solar companies (i am talking about India which should be a big market for solar).

  14. bolaji ojo
    November 16, 2011

    @Barbara, It's a new service Verizon recently introduced. It's called Home Monitoring and Control and it offers residential customers a range of services, including the opportunity to monitor and control household video cameras, energy control, doors and windows. The equipment also lets customers remotely control their thermostats, open doors, etc. Really fascinating stuff and it is similar in so many ways to the services provided bysecurities  companies like ADT.

  15. Wale Bakare
    November 16, 2011

    Bolaji i bet that is going to be a big hit should Apple roll out its TV device. Having worked in Broadband and TV sector of Telecom company in the past,  i believe consumers might welcome the idea of integrating hardware and software making a single TV set rather than separate digi-box(STB) and TV.

  16. Wale Bakare
    November 16, 2011

    Yes Himanshuguta, solar energy is capital intensive still on the fact of one-off investiment. Quiet unhandfull investors focus on the sector despite promising investiment returns. I will refer you to peruse this report – telecom's base stations upgrading to green energy

  17. bolaji ojo
    November 16, 2011

    Wale, The question on many people's minds isn't whether or not Apple will get into the TV business — the move is inevitable, according to industry analysts. The questions on investor mind is how Apple will become a player, what new equipment it is likely to introduce and how this will impact the current players and rival vendors.

  18. Houngbo_Hospice
    November 16, 2011

    @Wale:

    In my opinion, solar energy is not financially beneficial in most western countries where winter season lasts more than half of the year in those areas. I wonder why warm countries (in Africa for instance) are not considering solar energy as a solution to some of their recurrent power supply problems. 

  19. _hm
    November 16, 2011

    @Jacob: Apple TV will be TV with Apple defined 4K resolution LCD screen, 500 lumen  LED backlight with innovative interfaces and features. Google TV may be dull external box connected to some other TV. Also, Google is yet to prove its contribution to innovation in consumer hardware market. We need to see more innovative products and Apple may lead the way.

     

  20. saranyatil
    November 17, 2011

    Himanshugupta,

    Yes in India solar companies are not doin great except i feel Tata BP solar is contributing some valuable inputs in this domain contributing very little to the overall solar developments.

  21. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 17, 2011

    Himanshugupta,

    There are companies in Inda working on Solar panels, Solar water heaters and Solar concentrators , but I doubt whether any fundamental research is going on in any of these companies where a PHd in Solar can be employed. Most of these companies are applying the available technology & products from abroad  to cater to Indian market

  22. electronics862
    November 17, 2011

    Yes,India is densely populated and has high solar insolation, an ideal combination for using solar power.  although the country has made significant progress in wind energy generation, India lags far behind other countries as far as generation of solar power is concerned..

  23. mfbertozzi
    November 17, 2011

    I am quite surprised about trends' list: not to say I don't agree with, but polling other people for example, it is a common and shared opinion gaming sector could climb in a good position by 2012. At the end it is a mix among mobile, broadband, intelligent handsets or hand-devices and social networks philosophy.

  24. Wale Bakare
    November 17, 2011

    Hospice_Houngbo, one should often be wondering how numerous of unlimited resources still left untapped and explored in most of the under-developed nations.

    Just recently few of the foreign and private establishments have now taking the lead investing in solar sector for an instance. I think, it is going to be a matter of waiting times to see this matured,  where both goverments and the rest of private investors to part-take in such huge opportunity.

  25. Mr. Roques
    November 17, 2011

    I'm specially interested in those high-IQ networks Verizon talks about. Are they suggesting each device will need its own connection? and that we will have to pay individual bills for each one? Seems very irracional. 

    I don't know why Verizon is as hyped about it, I would think GE would be much more hyped. 

    Verizon needs to create enough value added services such that its dumb pipe won't be its only source of income in the near future.

  26. mfbertozzi
    November 18, 2011

    Speaking about, it seems there is just a little confusion also on strategy to adopt; it was annoucend acquisition and then merging T-Mob, at the end the execution of that path is still in delivery, despite over 1 year is gone. How could they restore the confidential in vision for 2012 if tasks planned in a recent past are still not delivered?

  27. Anne
    November 18, 2011

    Barbara

    What's that You're Watching?    It is true to watch those fees and choose wisely, I remember of XFINITY where you can browse, watch and record TV shows and movies anytime on demand even on your phone, but you pay for it

  28. itguyphil
    November 19, 2011

    Himanshugupta, India is now focusing on innovative ways of providing clean energy, so practically even in elementary education itself, it has included lessons on clean energy. And of course, many new solar and wind power mills are in construction in many places of India.

  29. SunitaT
    November 22, 2011

    Will Apple introducce more innovative Apple TV in 2012?

    @_hm everyone is eagerly waiting for Apple TV. Would be interesting to see what new they will offer in their TV. What other products Apple is currently working on? Any new, innovative prodcut lined up ?

  30. _hm
    November 22, 2011

    My guess: it will be 4K resolution, natural 3D engine with very high contrast and high lumen intensity. It will have surround sound quality as good as that of Bose. It will be wireless from modem/receiver to TV and will have integraed Macbook. It will run most Apple applications and will have remote, SIRI interface and option for keyboard/mosue. iPAD may act like keyboard and iPhone as remote. Apple invested $3B last year for display technology. It may precursor to Apple TV. Apple cloud service may provide innovative cost effective services.

     

  31. Ms. Daisy
    November 27, 2011

    @Pocharle, any effort to go green by any nation is welcomed. A little effort to by all decrease our carbon prints will go a long way.

  32. itguyphil
    November 28, 2011

    I agree. We can only get to better environmental levels with a team-oriented approach. Selling credits works somewhat but is not the most effective means.

  33. Mr. Roques
    December 23, 2011

    I think that's important but kids in rural india are not the problem (when speaking about clean energy and gas emissions). Big companies, whose top exec went to the best schools are the problem… I'm sure they know the impact.

  34. itguyphil
    December 23, 2011

    Mr. Roques,

    Correct. That's why all of the efforts now are geared towards grabbing those folks' attention. All those big billboards and signs on the public transportation are just meant to keep the majority aware of the situation.

  35. mario8a
    December 23, 2011

    I think in the near future technology will spin to a new trend of less devices more value. Who needs an ipod when it's function is included on iphone?

  36. Kunmi
    December 31, 2011

    You are very right. No one is shooting for carrying heavy load of equipments when there are various options can serve the same purpose

  37. Kunmi
    December 31, 2011

    We will all go green even at domestic level. Consider the number of letters and bills even when you do not need them. Turns of junks in the mail…….killing at times. The earlier we go green, the better

  38. Mr. Roques
    January 19, 2012

    You think? while some big companies are shifting to a green environment, there's still a lot of work to be done.

    Who's talking to cows, btw?

  39. itguyphil
    January 19, 2012

    I do. I agree that there is still work to be done. But awareness is the key. If the majority of the population is in the dark on a topic, there will be little headway in the initiative.

  40. Mr. Roques
    January 26, 2012

    I agree that creating awareness adds pressure to big companies to “go green” or else, consumers will start shifting… 

  41. itguyphil
    January 27, 2012

    Yes. Especially if consumers are provided with incentives to go green (tax rebates, prizes, etc)

  42. ahdand
    January 27, 2012

    I would go for Easy Green and Digital Door Locks if I was given the choice but will focus more on Easy Green though becasue it is the important factor right now for any industry.

  43. itguyphil
    January 31, 2012

    Is Easy Green the manufacturer? I did a Google search and there were alot of sparse results.

  44. ahdand
    February 6, 2012

    Yes its the manufacturer. I also had some issues when I tried to Google it but eventually got it.

  45. itguyphil
    February 8, 2012

    OK. In general, a tip:

    If you get the link for a not so well known site or company, link to it directly so the rest of us can click and find the reference material easily.

  46. ahdand
    February 12, 2012

    Yes that can be done. I will try to find it and post it here but IMO its not that practical.

  47. Mr. Roques
    February 29, 2012

    Tax rebates normally go for companies, but that might be a good idea. If you buy from a “green company” (with some sort of certification), you would get a tax break. The companies that want to increase sales, might be pushed to green technologies.

  48. itguyphil
    February 29, 2012

    Exactly, it could be like an Energy Star program.. but with technological ramifications. In addition to the potential for recycling parts that is a HUGE unknown industry according to what I have heard.

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