Apple Watch will see wearables hype reaching “stratospheric levels”, with the connected home and connected cars also proving to be hot topics at this year’s show
CCS Insight has predicted that connected devices, in particular wearables, will dominate this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The event takes place in Las Vegas from January 6-9.
Other segments within this product sector, such as the connected home and connected cars will be popular as well, with augmented and virtual reality also being notable themes.
The analyst firm has predicted that annual sales of wearable devices will hit 135 million units by 2018. Most wearables will be wrist-based, with more than 40 million smartwatches and fitness bands sold this year.
It said that although 2014 was widely considered to be the “year of the wearables”, it believes it will be eclipsed at this year’s CES, with chief of research Ben Wood claiming interest in wearables will reach “stratospheric levels”.
“This year’s show will see wearables hype reaching stratospheric levels buoyed by the looming arrival of the Apple Watch (pictured). 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 said it expects “few ground-breaking developments” in smartphones and tablets at CES, which it said are now centred on seemingly identical touchscreen slab designs. Android will be the dominant OS for new devices, it claims, with thinner products with larger screens providing the only glimmer of hope,
It added Samsung will use its keynote presentation at the event to underline its determination to shake off its current problems.
Elsewhere, CCS expects the connected home to be another dominant theme at CES as manufacturers, service providers and software companies all compete to secure a leading place in this area. It said there are high expectations of what this technology can offer, but that a lack of common infrastructure and standards is making progress “painfully slow”.
Surveys by the analyst have shown that the average UK household has more than 10 connected devices, and this will rise to 15 by 2019.
CCS Insight SVP, internet, Martin 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.”
CCS added that the connected car is another area to watch closely at this year’s show and expects all leading car manufacturers to use CES to showcase the next generation of connected devices.
However, Garner said these companies need to make tough decisions about whether to sign deals with Apple and Google or to pursue their own approach.
“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.”