So now that we’re nicely into January and the glitz & glamour of the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas has been and gone, we at Tech Towers in Winchester thought it worth summing up some of the predictions for the year ahead that have been swirling round the world wide web.
Engadget captures the general consensus nicely by describing 2015 as the year “where the smart home, connected cars and the entire “Internet of Things” concept finally reaches everyday consumers”.
I would broadly agree with this statement, but I think a Silicon Valley reality will be slightly different to other parts of the developed world, so probably the Internet of Things (IoT) reaching the consciousness rather than the wallets of everyday consumers is more likely for the majority in 2015.
I wrote about the IoT a few months ago when we also asked UK smartphone owners which connected gadgets they would be most interested in. The interest in smartwatches was quite low but that wasn’t too surprising, given that:
- a traditional wristwatch is not just a functional object, it is also a fashion statement that reflects your style or status – so the physical design is critically important, and no beautifully designed and really usable smartwatches have been launched in the UK (yet)
- the poor battery life means there are practicality issues with smartwatches
- thus far there hasn’t been a clear reason to use one instead of a smartphone, which we alluded to in an article published in The Times last year
However, wearables are going to be grabbing the headlines in 2015 in a big way, and the daddy of them all is undoubtedly going to be the Apple Watch. The general expectation (or hope) is that the Apple Watch will redefine the smartwatch category the way the iPod, iPhone and iPad have done previously. The smartwatch is in a unique position to become the natural mobile device for transactions, being strapped to your wrist 18 hours a day. That physical connection to the user will allow more effective use of haptics to make users aware of deals & offers and the smaller screen will force developers to simplify the experience, which should encourage trial. The analyst Brian Roemmele has even coined the phrase ‘watch commerce’ to describe this emerging category. In tandem with Apple Pay, it should give the mobile payments sector a big boost.
Although category sales of wearables are rising hugely whilst smartphones and tablets have plateau’d somewhat according to Accenture’s 2015 Digital Consumer Survey, the trusty smartphone is the one which brands should be focusing on – according to Google’s Top 3 Trends for 2015 for marketers.
Describing the mobile device as “the remote control for our lives”, Google go on to stress that brands should really focus on giving consumers a great experience on their smartphone, something that a lot of companies still haven’t grasped, as you can’t beat the immediacy of convenience that the phone gives. Like many people, I now use my smartphone more than my laptop to browse the internet; in fact, despite the general rule of thumb being the opposite, some mobile app experiences are now actually better than their full webpage counterparts – step forward the excellent Auto Trader app that I have been using a lot lately as I look to upgrade my ten year old car with one half its age.
Speaking of cars, connected cars featured prominently at the CES this year. With the Mercedes F 015, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in his keynote communicated Mercedes-Benz’s future vision of the car moving beyond its role of mere transport and instead becoming an extension of people’s homes – a mobile living space. Their interpretation is centred on self driving cars fitted out with touchscreens and multiple sensors monitoring the surroundings. The Mercedes S Class usually showcases the most advanced technology in cars and it already offers the Intelligent Drive system which lets the S Class drive itself in traffic up to 37mph – most useful in California which legalised self driving technology in 2012.
Based on an analysis of its search data, one of Google’s themes for 2015 is ‘the speed of life gets faster’, which is a natural consequence of much of the above. Consumers now want instant information, instant entertainment & instant services and this means more and more decisions are being made – and the more connected we become, the more this will happen. And ‘on demand’ isn’t just for the web anymore – searches in Feb 2014 for ‘same day delivery shopping’ were double that of Feb 2010, no doubt predicting a demand trend.
Maybe drones really are the answer!
Dr Zetsche’s CES speech starts 4 minutes into the video.