Consumer electronics manufacturers are slowly unveiling their latest products as the holiday season approaches. This year, “wearables,” “hearables,” and “viewables” are trending. Wearables include smartwatches, like those from Apple and Garmin. Hearables, a subset of wearables, include wireless headphones and earbuds, such as the Apple AirPods. Viewables are, of course, tablets and the latest in smart TVs.
The demand for shared data and connectivity between such devices means the Internet of Things (IoT) is also gaining market traction. IoT lets devices connect via the internet, enabling them to send and receive data. With it comes challenges, relating to reliability, standards, and privacy, which are still subject to scrutiny and regulations. However, those concerns are not stopping consumer electronics manufacturers from offering IoT-enabled devices.
In fact, consumer IoT’s share is expected to reach 45 percent by 2020. This will include transportation as well as tech-savvy consumer devices — such as the smartphone or smart devices.
According to a recent IDTechEx’s research report, wearable technology products are thriving, with a total market worth over $50bn in 2019, which has more than doubled since just 2014.
One of the top sellers this holiday season: smartwatches. “We’re pretty bullish on smartwatches,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst with NPD Group, a market research advisory. “The Apple Watch 5 looks like it’s going to be a big winner.”
Apple debuted its fifth-generation smartwatch at its fall product launch event in September. Apple’s new, customizable device features an “Always-On Retina” display so users can always see the time. The watch also offers new health and fitness applications. For example, with an ECG app, it offers a quick read on a user’s heart rate and rhythm.
An activity rings track progress and encourages more activity. It also lets wearers compete with friends in challenges.
Hearables are another category of products that are “on fire,” according to Baker. These devices include advanced noise-canceling headphones — such as those from the likes of Bose and Sony. It also includes wireless earbuds, such as Apple’s market-leading AirPods.
Amazon has also introduced its first wireless earbuds, Echo Buds. Echo Buds work with the Alexa app to stream music, play Audible audiobooks, make calls, or get directions. Users just have to ask. They also support access to Siri or Google Assistant. Amazon also recently introduced Echo Loop, a smart ring (worn on one’s finger) that provides access to the Alexa voice assistant.
According to analyst, Stephen Baker, shoppers can expect great deals on flat-panel, big-screen TVs for Black Friday and Christmas shopping.
“There’s no question that big-screen TVs are going to be the number one product type,” he said. “Big screens — 65-inch, 75-inch, etc. — that’s today’s definition of a big screen. Ten years ago, a big screen was 43 inches. They just keep getting bigger and bigger.”
Price cuts have fueled the growth of television purchases. The average selling price for a 65-inch TV so far this year is $849, Baker said. Three years ago, it was more than $1,500. Low costs this holiday season will make big-screen TVs a “monster product,” he added.
Consumers are also buying new TVs in 4K resolution to better experience some of the streaming services from Netflix or Amazon.com, for example. Streaming video platform, Roku, also recently added a 4K Spotlight Channel to its service with its latest system update. Roku also launched a new smart soundbar and wireless subwoofer to give viewers a premium audio experience.
Although not quite “viewables” in the same sense as television, Baker predicts to “see an enormous amount of growth in security cameras,” which
For example, the Arlo Pro 3 security camera from Arlo Technologies installs in minutes and can be viewed directly from a smartphone. The Consumer Technology Association is predicting sales of smart home devices will rise 16% to $4.5 billion this year. Home safety and monitoring products are leading in sales growth.
The NPD Group is forecasting consumer electronics sales, excluding smartphones, to rise 2.4% year over year in the fourth quarter in the U.S. this year. Baker said that’s on par with last year’s growth. Aside from hearables and viewables, sales will include Wi-Fi cameras, smart thermostats, smart locks and doorbells, and smart switches, and other home gadgets.