What's next for consumer tech?

By Jos
Sep 22, 2015
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  1. The last few decades have seen an explosion in technology-driven products for consumers. From PCs, tablets, and smartphones, to large flat-screen TVs, high-resolution recorded media, and numerous delivery methods for consuming that media, technology has become completely intertwined into most people’s lives.

    Along the way, a fundamental belief that technology could continue to drive hot new product categories has become so widespread, expectations of such developments have started to define our views of the future. “What’s the next new hot category for tech?” has become not just a common buzz phrase, but the filter through which we view and try to interpret the latest product news and technology advances.

    The view through this particular lens has begun to get very murky though. It’s not that we’re not continuing to see important new products and technology innovations—of course we are. After a long stream of critical, widely adopted devices, however, there is no tech heir apparent.

    Sure, there are lots of interesting new categories—wearables, smart home components, virtual and/or augmented reality, and connected cars to name a few—but none of them look to have the kind of widespread acceptance and influence on our day-to-day lives that the things like PCs, smartphones, flat-panel TVs, and even tablets have had.

    To put them into a more historical perspective, several of these new categories feel more like MP3 players or BluRay—certainly important technologies in their day, but not categories that have withstood the test of time when it comes to widespread ongoing usage.

    Several of the consumer new categories feel more like MP3 players or BluRay—certainly important technologies in their day, but not ones that have withstood the test of time.

    In some instances, such as wearables and virtual/augmented reality headsets, the challenge is that the products really only appeal to a small portion of the overall consumer audience. To be fair, these products are also only in their earliest stages, and will undoubtedly improve to the point where they do appeal to a wider audience. But even still, they just don’t seem like categories we’ll be talking much about in 5-7 years.

    In the case of both smart homes and connected cars, we’re also very early in the development process. In fact, I expect the arc of development to be significantly longer for both of these categories, so arguably, we could even be in earlier phases comparatively speaking. But the biggest challenge to acceptance and widespread adoption of these categories is not the technology. The real challenge in moving forward is competing standards.

    Unfortunately, different standards being promulgated by big name players, including Intel, Qualcomm, Google and Apple—none of whom are likely to abandon their positions anytime soon—are going to keep things extremely complicated in the smart home market for many years to come.

    For connected cars, each auto company will make important safety and connectivity improvements to their own vehicles. Both the technical and legal standards/requirements necessary to enable vehicle-to-vehicle intelligence, however, are still just a glimmer in the eyes of some forward-looking auto and tech industry executives, as well as insurers and legislators.

    The net result is that the next few years for consumer tech are likely to be ones of refinement and organization, with more efforts being made to get various individual elements talking to one another—essentially, getting your tech under control. Some of that may happen through mobile apps, but I also believe we’ll see a decreasing influence of individual apps and an increasing impact from consumer-focused services that extend beyond individual devices and specific operating systems.

    At the same time, we will continue to see the evolution of the aforementioned categories, such as wearables and smart homes, along with a few that have yet to be invented. But we’re likely to see much more specialization, with a wide range of new tech products that appeal to increasingly targeted (and therefore, smaller) markets.

    I don’t view this as a bad development, but it’s certainly a different one than we’ve experienced to date. It’s also one that’s likely to create a different lens through which we’ll start viewing ongoing product and technical advances.

    Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    The tech I'm most looking forward to is the connected vehicle. Smartwear, AR and 256K resolutions don't interest me in the least.
  3. noel24

    noel24 TS Evangelist Posts: 355   +203

    "What next, what next, how to leech consumers of their disposable income, cause We all go bankrupt?" The secret is to make it affordable to the masses, but manufacturers refuse to do so. High cost probably. Who cares? Mp3 players were relatively cheap, smartphones even if expensive had good price/performance ratio. I'm still waiting for PC monitors with 3D, or cheap WQHD monitor with the same price per pixel count as FHD, the same fate will happen to 4K monitors and VR, they will be to expensive for majority, limited to few wealthy, and devs will refuse to invest serious money in content creation. Will die natural cause. Bought My father $80 FHD VA that looks awsome (from My perspective). 4K 32" monitor in that money/pixel range will never exist, so next year when I save some cash I'm gonna buy $500 Samsung TV with 60Hz@4:4:4. Just don't post any of those sad news about Acer or Asus firing few thousand people because nobody buys their overpriced "gaming" monitors. Nobody serves average folks, while few years back it was all about middle-range consumers. Hype, hype and only hype. And We're supposed to dig deeper into our pockets.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,663   +1,949

    Somebody ate too much sugar...

    The new VR sets are getting so realistic, clean britches become in short supply.

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