By Beth Pinsker, Editorial Director of dealnews
For many, many years, the mainstay of the Consumer Electronics Association has been television — the TVs themselves and the gadgets to go with them to make them easier to use and more useful in the home. With the release of its yearly report on the "5 Technology Trends to Watch," the leading industry group for the makers of electronic devices is taking a new direction. Its core areas of interest are now mostly about mobile technologies and the gizmos that make them work better, and no longer about TVs.
"Right now, TV is, in a way, kind of played out," says Sean Murphy, a senior account manager with the CEA. Penetration rates have peaked and buying is slow. His only prognosis on TV sales is that the push for 3D TVs will drive down prices overall for HDTVs and entice people to buy. "It's going to be a price war to see who can unload inventory," he says.
So if it's not about TV anymore, where is the action going to be from gadget-makers to get your dollars? The five trends to watch break down like this:
- Technology and privacy: With social media and data privacy still not at the forefront of people's minds even after constant media attention all summer, Murphy says he fears that only a catastrophic release of bank or medical information will galvanize the public and service providers to take precautions. What that means for the gadgets you're buying and services you're using is that it's going to be a while before there's any sort of V-Chip or legislation to make sure your personal data is safe online. You're on your own to take precautions until software developers come up with security patches for a hefty price tag.
- The future of video distribution and consumption: Entertainment companies should take note of this statistic: The CEA found that 23% of consumers had cut back on paid channels from cable and satellite providers. Why? Because 27% of people reported to be streaming online video. Basically, the future is now, says CEA analyst Deepak Joseph in his report of the trend of the seamless integration of devices with no wires, no barriers and no trouble transferring files from one place to another. You can do all of this today; in each home, it's just a matter of how much you've hooked up to work this way with Bluetooth devices. "This interactivity is the new normal," says Murphy.
- Mobile broadband and 4G: What's supplanting the TV more than anything right now? The smartphone. The CEA found that more than 82% of respondents played video games on their phones at least 15 minutes a week, and 50% spent more than an hour playing games. Add to that the hours spent listening to music, surfing the Web, doing email and watching videos, and you've got a device that commands a lot of attention. "That data is a great way to see how far we've come in five years," says Murphy. "4G is about what you can carry with you. It is the new computing solution." And all eyes in the consumer electronics industry are going to be focused on it.
- Green technology: "Green is not an option, but an imperative," says Murphy. One good thing about smaller devices is that they use less power and typically come with internal, rechargeable batteries, but all businesses are now intent on finding ways to make even smaller, more efficient devices, with as many multitaskers as possible. That's good news for consumers, because it means prices will drop.
- The future of apps: Apps will do everything soon enough, and consumer electronics makers want to benefit from that as much as possible. But for the most part, people are still predictable about what they use and what they will purchase. "What are people using apps for consistently? Weather, social networking, news, banking and sports," Murphy reports. "They dwarf everything else." So you'll see continued focus on apps that feed these key areas, and everything else will continue to go into one big miscellaneous pile.
Beth Pinsker is dealnews' Editorial Director. She was most recently the Editor of WalletPop.com and has always been a life-long bargain hunter. Follow her on Twitter — @bethpinsker. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
Photo credit: reegmo via Flickr