Looking Ahead: 2020 Electronics Landscape

So you think the iPad is revolutionary? Wake up. It's 2020 and a new King reigns. Today, the iPad is fondly remembered as nothing but a dumb, miniaturized version of the flat-screen TV. That, at least, is the forward-looking view of some people in certain quarters of the electronics and investment community who believe the industry has some incredible applications that will debut over the next five to 10 years.

I tend to agree. The iPad and the iPhone that propelled {complink 379|Apple Inc.} to the top of the consumer electronics industry and made it the world's most valued publicly traded company were years in the making. It may come as a surprise to many, but the idea for the iPad first started making the rounds at Apple early in the beginning of the last decade. As I noted in a previous blog, the next big thing from Apple will eclipse whatever you're seeing today. If the company doesn't deliver on that promise, its flame will die out slowly and another pioneering company will take its place. (See: Apple’s Next Big Thing Will Be Huge.)

In a garage somewhere and in the minds of the next-generations of investors, new products and applications for the electronics industry are germinating. Many of these have the potential to spin off a new set of super companies, while others will revitalize older enterprises. Remember, enterprises like Facebook and even Google were unknown a mere 10 or 15 years ago, and even Apple was considered electronics roadkill late in the 90s. Perhaps companies like Acer, HP, IBM, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, RIM, and Samsung will get their second wind by coming out with the next set of products that would define the next generation of consumers. It's also possible Apple will continue to lead the way into the next decade.

While we aren't sure which companies will deliver on that promise, I am confident the next decade won't be defined by products like the smartphone and the tablet PC — both of which are great devices but in reality are simply replacing or adding peripherally to functionalities present in an older product, the PC. Consumers will demand more over the next decade, but who can predict what the landscape will look like five or 10 years from now? Do you know what businesses are cooking up, or do you have ideas about the type of products you expect companies to introduce, and how the electronics supply chain will respond?

If you do, we want to hear from you. EBN has partnered with research firm {complink 9171|Frost & Sullivan} to get answers to some of these questions. In a survey we'll be fielding over the next few weeks, we will be asking the following core questions and will share our findings with readers:

  • What will the electronics industry landscape look like in 2020 and beyond?
  • What new technologies and megatrends (such as innovating to zero, smart factories) will affect consumer choice and growth strategies?
  • How does that affect productivity and manufacturing techniques within a company?
  • What are the evolving roles of the value chain partners?
  • What new best-practices must companies cultivate in order to succeed post 2020?

Participants will receive a summary of the results. If you would like to participate, please start the survey.

5 comments on “Looking Ahead: 2020 Electronics Landscape

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 13, 2012

    I'm having a hard time imagining what the next device will be, so it's a good thing I am not in the product design business. I just hope as much attention is paid to areas such as medical as to consumer. Don't get me wrong–I am a huge fan of movies and music and my PC has made my life easier all around. But medical care is still out of the reach of many people that can afford a cell phone.

  2. bolaji ojo
    March 13, 2012

    Barb, I sure wish I knew what other wow product the industry might bring to market. In some ways, though, this is not so hard to figure out. If you consider any of the breakthrough products of the last 20 years, none has been really anything new. Most are just improvements on an already existing product. The smartphone, the tablet PC, wireless connectivity, digital music player, etc., all have previous iterations that performed the same functions in some ways or the other.

    If I want to think of a future great seller, I would like at what we have today that's simply clunky and ask myself if it's possible to make them better, easier to use and improve portability. The same applies in the medical equipment market where miniaturization is being applied to many of the huge products in service today.

    There are products in the market, for instance, that make it unnecessary for people to drive several days a week to a hospital for dialysis. It is possible to do it at home yourself! That is innovation built on an existing platform.

    March 14, 2012

    I wish I had an accurate crystal ball instead of the old foggy one our company uses.  I imagine the future will bring major advances in health care as the percentage of older people increases.  We will also see more in true home automation and smart appliances.  We should all expect major advances in renewable energy, energy saving devices and automotive technology.

  4. Houngbo_Hospice
    March 14, 2012


    In my crystal ball, I can see personal fying cars, medical edible chips, advanced camouflage technology such as invisible cars.  

  5. Blair Aylesworth
    March 14, 2012

    I would expect automotive to be the next big thing for electronics manufacturing. “Smart Cars” that drive themselves, monitor your email, and find music to your tastes, all while consuming little to no fossil fuels! Sounds to good to be true, but in reality isn't that far out of reach. And as Bolaji says below, its technology that is simply improving that which already exists.

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