FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

10 trends from CES 2016

Wed 27 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas provided a glimpse of new technology and innovation to come during the rest of the year. There was more evolution than revolution at this year’s event, with many companies launching “me-too” or upgraded versions of existing products rather than breakthrough concepts.

It’s a welcome sign of maturity for many new categories, which have suffered from poor design and misguided concepts in the past. But that doesn’t mean that companies at the show weren’t willing to talk about the bigger, longer-term trends that will reshape the consumer landscape. Here’s some of the top trends from the show floor.

1. Better and cheaper smartphones from Chinese vendors

Established and emerging Chinese vendors demonstrated their determination to try to dominate the market for the world’s most important consumer electronics product, the smartphone. After launching devices in the rest of Asia Pacific and parts of Europe last year, they are now expected to make a significant push in the very competitive US market.

Chinese entertainment company LeTV made a big splash at CES by launching Le Max Pro, the first smartphone with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor and ultrasonic-based fingerprint technology. LeTV, which only started to sell smartphones in China in 2015 has become the most innovative smartphone vendor at CES. This paves the way for an expected US launch in 1Q16. The company is already selling 4K smart TVs in the US by invitation only.

Huawei launched a phablet designed for the European market. Priced from €600 ($1001 NZD), the Mate 8 is a dual-SIM 4G handset featuring a 6-inch display, an in-house-developed Kirin octa-core processor and a 16MP camera sensor. Huawei also unveiled impressive results from its smartphone business: It sold 108 million smartphones in 2015 (+44% YoY) generating $20bn in revenue (+70% YoY).

2. Specialisation vs. smartness: Competition in wearables

There are three camps in the smart-watch market: Products focusing exclusively on activity tracking and sports/fitness; multipurpose watches offering a wider variety of features and apps; and premium or luxury watches where notifications and activity tracking are provided as discrete add-ons. The customer segment each type of watch targets is relatively distinct.

Fitbit and Withings launched advanced versions of their activity trackers to address competition from multipurpose smart watches from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. Besides focusing almost entirely on activity tracking, as opposed to notifications and apps, battery life was also featured as a key differentiator. For example, Withings Go watch battery lasts up to eight months.

Smart-watch makers are expanding to new categories to try and sustain sales growth in a market that still remains niche (i.e. less than 10% adoption). Samsung and Huawei launched new versions of their latest smart-watch models, featuring more precious materials and premium designs.

3. Microsoft resurges – albeit mainly on tablets and two-in-ones

Many tablet models based on Windows 10 were launched at CES, including offerings from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung, mainly targeted at business users.

The Samsung TabPro S was the most surprising announcement and is well positioned to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s iPad Pro throughout 2016. Global tablet sales declined overall in 2015 but sales in the two-in-one segment increased, and many of the tablets launched at CES 2016 are two-in-one devices.

Microsoft also released some numbers on Windows 10 adoption: There are 200 million monthly active Windows 10 devices, of which 40% have been activated since November 25 (Black Friday). This corresponds to 11 billion hours of usage, including 44.5 billion minutes on Microsoft Edge, 2.5 billion questions asked to Cortana, 82 billion photos viewed via the photo app and 4 billion hours of PC game play.

The data shows that Windows 10 is performing relatively well compared with the two previous versions of Windows, which shows that Microsoft is moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, Windows 10 adoption on mobile handsets is still very limited, with only Alcatel and Acer announcing new products at CES.

4. Business-class computers people want to be seen with

The ongoing “consumerisation” of business technology means CES has become an important show for vendors to the enterprise market. Lest employers forget, employees are consumers too, and many are increasingly choosing to bring their own smartphones, tablets and laptops to work.

The Apple MacBook Air, Microsoft Surface Pro and Dell XPS 13 are just three examples of computers favored by “the Technorati,” but what about the rest of us? Well, it appears that Dell has finally realised that looks do matter, because the company used CES to announce an expanded line-up of commercial devices, most of which offered enhanced design aesthetics to complement the security, manageabilit, and reliability features that are generally of prime interest to IT purchasing managers.

In 2015, Microsoft partnered with Dell (and HP) to sell and support the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in the North American corporate market, but, with its new Latitude 12 7000, Dell believes it can offer a sexier, lighter and more feature-loaded tablet than Microsoft’s Surface. Dell also claims that the Latitude 13 7000 Series Ultrabook is the world’s smallest 13-inch business-class PC, and that by using space-age materials, such carbon fiber, the computer can endure the rigor of heavy business use while maintaining an attractive allure.

5. From more pixels to better pixels: HDR enshrined in 4K’s future

LG, Samsung, and Sony brought down 4K entry-level prices by bringing the technology to their low-tier product lines. High Dynamic Range (HDR) took centre stage at CES with all major TV manufacturers now featuring HDR on all 4K TV models including Chinese vendors such as HiSense and TCL.

The UHD Alliance, a trade association of over 35 companies that includes Dolby, LG, Netflix, Panasonic, and Samsung, agreed on a new standard and logo to capture HDR capability called Ultra High Definition Premium.

UHD and HDR standardisation will have a significant impact on 4K TV adoption as non-HDR capable TVs will not be compatible with most 4K set-top boxes and pay-TV services. In addition, HDR significantly enhances the 4K experience, driving consumers’ purchase intention. For the top TV manufacturers, 4K TV sales already generate more than 20% of their revenue. This percentage is set to increase rapidly as 4K is cascaded down to other models throughout 2016.

6. One UI to rule them all? Unified search comes to TV

Various companies offered solutions to one of the biggest problems facing modern TV – too much choice. CES 2016 saw many new developments aimed at helping viewers to search and discover TV shows, movies, and other content spread across pay TV, broadcaster catch-up services, and OTT apps such as Netflix. Time Warner Cable’s app integration on LG Web OS 3.0 and Roku OS 7, along with Dish’s new set-top box, the Hopper 4, were among the best demos at CES.

7. Auto-makers drive towards a new kind of mobility…

Many car manufacturers spoke about a new future for themselves, as “mobility companies.” A fundamental part of this change – and without doubt the connected-car super-theme of CES 2016 – was autonomous vehicles. Autonomy was the focal point of every major auto OEM’s press conference, from the mass-market brands of Ford, Toyota, and Kia to the luxury brands of Audi and Mercedes.

What is the connection between autonomy and mobility? Autonomous vehicles have the potential to democratise personal transportation, using both privately owned and shared vehicles, to a new degree: To those that are too young or too old to own a driving licence.

But do consumers really want autonomous cars? Ironically the question is moot, for, in the words of one Ford representative, it is simply the case that, “in order to stay competitive every auto OEM needs to have an autonomous driving strategy.”

8. …while strengthening ties with Apple and Google

Industry support for applications that mirror smartphone screens on car head units was strengthened as Ford, Chrysler, and Mercedes all launched connected services with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration – Ford sync 3, U-Connect V4, and the as-yet unnamed new Mercedes head unit, respectively.

No additional manufacturers announced products with support for MirrorLink, the open source alternative to Android Auto and CarPlay – Volkswagen remains the only one with commercially available units.

No question remains as to the role of smartphone screen mirroring. Although all indications are that in five years’ time even the most affordable, mass-market vehicles will be manufactured with dedicated modems, drivers will still be bringing their own mobile devices into vehicles – and will need to use them safely.

9. Virtual and augmented reality connect to the Internet of Things

While virtual reality was once again a big draw for CES attendees, with lines stretching all around the outside of the Oculus booth, a slightly less heralded – but no less intriguing trend – is the move to integrate computer vision with connected devices.

One key example was ThingWorx, which was at the AT&T Developer Summit the day before CES, showing off how it has integrated the Vuforia augmented reality platform into connected devices such as bikes, giving real-time data on function and positioning, among other information.

Retail is another area where virtual reality and IoT is expected to converge, with connected VR or AR devices enabling on-the-spot purchases – MasterCard’s Worldwide CMO predicts that this vision could become a reality within 5–7 years.

10. Netflix, consumer electronics, content and the cloud

The biggest announcement at CES was not about consumer electronics per se, but about content and the cloud. But Netflix’s decision to make its service available in a further 130 countries, taking the total to 190, will have a significant impact on device sales.

Netflix has proved to be a “hero” service for subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD), stimulating adoption and competition almost everywhere it has launched. These benefits have flowed to consumer electronics manufacturers as well, as consumers have bought devices to enjoy the service on new screens.

LG showed how device manufacturers can capitalise on Netflix’s success more directly. The South Korean company said it will work with Netflix to offer prepaid access to the streaming video service, which could help attract new subscribers, particularly in emerging markets where credit and debit card penetration is low.

A less-reported, but important development was LG’s move to add access to 50 streaming channels from brands including Buzzfeed, GQ, Wired, and Vogue to several of its new smart TVs. Expect more device vendors to promote digital video services from leading publishing brands as they continue to capture viewers’ attention.

Article by Rob Gallagher, Director Research & Analysis, Media & Entertainment at Ovum

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive
Western Digital expands its WD_Black range of NVMe solid-state drives with the WD_Black SN770 Game Drive.
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
First Table
First Table set to revive restaurant commerce in NZ with platform launch
A new restaurant booking platform has launched in New Zealand, giving Kiwi diners the opportunity to save and book at a variety of restaurants around the country.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
In almost every respect it works like a book, apart from the fact that it weighs next to nothing, fits in my hand perfectly, and is soothing on my eyes.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Tell-tale hints before volcanic eruptions found using AI
Researchers have pinpointed precursors to volcanic eruptions, in data collected before explosions including the deadly 2019 Whakaari surge that killed 22 people.
Story image
i-PRO
i-Pro announces newest solutions as rebranded enterprise
i-PRO APAC Oceania has introduced its newest high-resolution mid-range cameras, with combined edge AI analytics and resolutions of up to 4K.
Story image
Dynabook
Dynabook A/NZ announces new Portégé X40L-K hyperlight laptop
Dynabook A/NZ has unveiled the all-new Portégé X40L-K, a hyperlight 14.0" modern laptop utilising cutting-edge, high-performance computing power.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 gaming mice
Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use.
Story image
Collaboration
TikTok launches community-inspired effect capability
TikTok has announced the launch of its Effect House feature to allow its users to create and share Community Effects.
Story image
WolfVision
WolfVision announces new range of visualisers
WolfVision has announced a new range of visualisers to help meet multiple industry demands for remote learning and educational solutions.
Story image
NFT
Emirates to launch NFTs and experiences in the metaverse
"Emirates has embraced advanced technologies to improve business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees' skills and experiences."
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: The A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console
Retro Games, the UK outfit responsible for a range of retro gaming devices from joystick to full-sized Vic-20s and C64 emulators, have launched their A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Google to enter the smartwatch market with the Google Pixel Watch
Google has provided a first look at its new Google Pixel Watch, which is set to make an entry into the competitive smartwatch market.
Story image
Corsair
Hands-on review: Corsair 32GB Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM kit
Corsair’s Vengeance 5200MHz DDR5 DRAM offers PC users an entry-level upgrade to the new memory standard allowing them to get a little bit more out of their new Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
E-waste
NZ’s first and only e-waste sorting machine launched
Computer Recycling launches e-waste shredder and MSS optical sorting machine BLUBOX, which is able to sort out a tonne of e-waste per hour
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Intel Core i7-12700 CPU
Intel’s middle-of-the-road 12th generation Core i7-12700 offers performance at a lower price than the pricey Core i9 for users that are not fussed by overclocking.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: GoPro Hero 10
I have a long history with GoPro; I still remember getting my first camera when I was 16, using it to film Parkour and the day I lost it down a dingey crag. 
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.
Story image
Malware
Vulnerabilities in Lenovo laptops expose users to UEFI malware
Researchers at ESET have discovered three vulnerabilities affecting various Lenovo consumer laptop models.
Story image
Norton
Hands-on review: Norton Anti Track 19 software
We get hands on with Norton's new privacy tool that was introduced in March 2022.
Story image
Logitech
Logitech releases new mouse with ergonomic and sustainable focus
Logitech has announced the Logitech Signature M650 Mouse and the Signature M650 for Business Wireless Mouse, both with new ergonomic features and capabilities.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant spike in consumer fraud, new report finds
Reported cases of consumer fraud more than tripled in the years 2020-2021 from prior years, according to a new report by Accenture.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Poly
Poly introduces new smart devices and announces Amazon e-store in Australia
Poly is introducing two new pro-grade devices to the market and announcing its first official Australian e-store on Amazon.
Story image
D-Link
D-Link launches new G415 Smart Router as part of EAGLE PRO AI range
D-Link A/NZ has announced the launch of its new G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router as part of the new EAGLE PRO AI Series.
Story image
Sustainability
The AI Forum helps NZ pave the way with AI sustainability practices
Non-profit organisation The AI Forum is helping Kiwis learn about addressing climate change issues through the use of AI technology.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 32GB PNY XLR8 Gaming MAKO 6000MHz DDR5 memory kit
PNY’s XLR8 Gaming MAKO DDR5 memory modules are designed to get the most out of systems based on Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Sustainability
Can bots succeed where humans have failed in sustainability?
People want businesses to turn talk into action, and believe technology can help businesses succeed where people have failed.  
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5)
Although a bit of a tonal departure for Bethesda, Ghostwire Toyko is a good-looking and eerie action game that is aimed at a very select audience.
Story image
Design
Dynabook launches new Tecra A40-K and A50-K models
Dynabook has announced two new additions to its Tecra range, with both said to help promote flexible working solutions while also reducing the strain on IT managers.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: Creative Outlier Air V3
Creative is back with the third version of its affordable Outlier Air wireless earbuds range - aptly named the ‘V3’. And this time, they come boasting ambient mode and active noise reduction.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard
It’s all change with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs. We have a new chipset in the 600-series, a new socket with the LGA 1700, and new DDR5 memory.
Story image
Gaming
Mastercard users can now use rewards points in gaming
Mastercard has launched Mastercard Gamer Xchange (MGX), allowing APAC consumers to convert their rewards points into gaming currency.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Wireless
Sony to bring new 1000X series WH-1000XM5 headphones to the market
Sony has announced the newest edition of its award-winning wireless headphones, with the 1000X series WH-1000XM5 noise-cancelling model.
Story image
Music
Hands-on review: JBL Partybox 110 Bluetooth speaker
My first review in a long time is sure to create a lot of noise, if the experience in my household has been anything to go by.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: MLB The Show 22 (PS5)
Historically the MLB The Show series has been exclusive to PlayStation consoles, but now the franchise is expanding.
Story image
Jabra
Jabra reveals its latest portable headset Engage 55
Jabra has launched the Engage 55, the newest product in Jabra's Engage series designed for ultimate call security and quality.
Story image
PaaS
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.