The future of consumer technology
The 2013 annual Consumer Electronics show, held in Las Vegas this January, attracted thousands of industry professionals, including John Lewis electrical and technology buyers. It's the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, and it's the chance for our buyers to see exciting product developments and trends.
TVs always spark excitement at CES, and this year hasn’t been a disappointment. The arrival of Samsung’s 85-inch Ultra HD TV shows that home entertainment technology is set to become even slimmer with larger screens in 2013. Big screen technology has improved dramatically, and as larger TVs become more affordable, they are fast becoming the norm for consumers who want a more immersive entertainment experience at home. John Lewis figures certainly support this trend, showing that 64% of TV sales have been screen sizes of 40” plus since August 2012, and we predict further growth in this area.
Many manufacturers unveiled ultra high-definition sets at this year’s show. This is the latest TV innovation, tipped to deliver a staggeringly realistic picture and the ability to show 3D content in better than HD quality. As with 3D, Ultra HD there's not currently that much content available, but that could change quickly. HD TV will be the standard by 2020.
Another key trend is the development of new display technology, with the PaperTab bringing to life the benefits of bendable screens. This type of innovation gives you the potential to fold away screens when you’re not using them, and so will be quite a change for living room space.
Smart TVs got a makeover at CES, with Samsung simplifying the interface of its internet-connected televisions to make them more consumer- friendly. Combining the internet and TV has been technology holy grail for over a decade, but uptake is being driven by demand now to allow streaming from tablets and smart phones.
The announcement that the new Asus tablet is going to be powered by an Intel processor is really exciting because up until now Intel hasn’t really been in the tablet space at all. The 7-inch Android device has 3G data, voice capability and is competitively priced, so offers consumers another alternative to the iPad and iPad mini.
Tablets were THE technology product for Christmas 2012. In the run up to Christmas they were flying off our shelves at a rate of eight per minute, and overall our sales of tablets grew 5 times on last year. Apple has been leading the marketplace for a long time, but in 2012 we saw a host of rival tablets such as the new Microsoft Surface, Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
We know that customers are becoming increasingly familiar with touch screen technology. The main trend we’re seeing continued from last year is the launch of touch devices with different form factors, such as more multi-user touch devices like the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC. this is billed as the ‘coffee table tablet’, which can be used for multi-action gaming, for example. The PaperTab tablet is also exciting. While the final model is still a long way off, we’re really impressed with the technology and it shows that there is flexibility in how tablets will be developed in future.
There were other exciting innovations at this year’s CES – one of the most talked about being the HapiFork. Aside from being a quirky piece of kit, the intelligent talking fork taps into one of the hottest tech trends for 2013 – appcessories.
With half the UK population now owning a smartphone, tablet and app sales are exploding in popularity. Apps are fast becoming a way of life – at John Lewis we’ve seen massive growth, with gaming appcessories selling particularly well. Whilst hardware offers little more than a screen of differing sizes, all the exciting stuff now happens on the screen. It’s clear from what we’ve seen at CES that the tablet and smartphone market will grow by showing how these appcessories support our interests in making music, getting fit, or in the case of the HapiFork, watching what we eat.
By 2016 mobile apps are expected to generate a market of £32 billion, and appcessories are definitely set to be the next big mobile trend.
You may not see everything on sale in the UK this year, but it looks to be an exciting 12 months ahead for technology and for consumer electronics at John Lewis!