Tablet’s influence extends into farthest reaches of consumer electronics
By Kari Jensen
January 7, 2014
The tablets role in the consumer electronics landscape is growing and diversifying.
While the growth in tablets has been a boon for device manufacturers, there is also a growing opportunity for consumer electronics manufacturers more broadly, with many revealing new tablet integrations at this weeks Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. Of the 3,000 exhibitors at CES, most have seen their industry affected by mobile devices.
“You really almost have to look at everybody [at CES],” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association, Las Vegas. “All of the service providers as well, whether in the content community or not.
“Vehicles are going to be impacted by tablets,” he said. “Nine of the top 10 vehicles [manufacturers] will be exhibiting at CES, and I’m certain that all of them will be highlighting how tablets will be interacting into their vehicle experiences.”
The growing demand for tablets has spurred innovation in almost all retail sectors, including automotive electronics, digital entertainment and lifestyle and home electronics.
New tablet-related products launched at CESso far include LaCie Fuel, which adds one terabyte of external storage to mobile devices and Toshiba’s Smart TVs with Cloud Portal, which consumers can connect to with their tablets or smartphones.
“In 2011 at CES, we saw 100-plus tablets launched,” said Mr. DuBravac. “I don’t know if we’ll see that many this year, but we’ll see a lot of innovation.”
Tablets and mobile devices are being used to activate and control televisions and car dashboards (see story).
They can be programmed to monitor consumers’ diets and fitness activities.
At CES, Tech Zones have been set up to highlight emerging trends in technology, such as marketing products to moms and seniors or developing healthcare related or wearable technology.
“These trends are linked to tablets because individuals see tablets as a continuation of their cellphones, laptops and desktops,” said Walt Geer, vice president of product strategy for mobile and desktop at PointRoll, New York. “The tablet is the best of those worlds, because it has the power of all three and can still reside in one hand.
“It’s easier to consume content on a tablet than on a cell, and much easier to carry a tablet around than a laptop and most certainly easier than a desktop,” he said. “Usage is simpler, so it’s easy to see why these trends are showing up on tablets, because tablets are where people are spending most of their time.
“As Adobe noted recently, Internet users view 70 percent more pages per visit when browsing on a tablet than on a cellphone.”
As tablet ownership rises, brands and manufacturers are developing apps and either improving or adding device functions so as to target niche groups, such as seniors, who may seek an easier-to-understand interface or larger text or keyboards.
Tablet ownership almost doubled in 2013. As of June 2013, about a third of American adults owned a tablet device, such as in iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus or Kindle Fire, according to Pew Internet.
Global shipments of tablets will soar to 488 million in 2017, up from 141 in 2012. In 2014, market volumes will be driven by rising shipments of PC-type tablets, which are prominent at CES this week, according to IHS.
Consumer electronics in the United States is a $203 billion industry represented by the Consumer Electronics Association, which also owns and produces the annual CES.
About 150,000 people are expected to attend CES this year.
“It’s such a large event,” said Jeff Orr, Bend Oregon-based analyst for ABI Research, who is attending the CES this week. “It’s a great way to immerse oneself in consumer electronics.
“The event has embraced wireless and mobility over time,” he said.
Samsung booth at CES
New product launches
More new products are expected to be announced during the CES, which runs from Jan. 7 to 10.
“2014 is going to be a year for tablets and related capabilities that are deepening,” Mr. Orr said. “Not only are the devices becoming more powerful, but they’re going to be available to a wider range.”
Although Apple is not at CES, analysts anticipate the company will release new products or innovations this week.
Samsung, the major manufacturer of Android tablets, has multiple booths at CES. As of press time Monday, Samsung had not announced any tablet launches, although analysts expect it to this week.
On Monday, Samsung Electronics Co. introduced Samsung Enterprise Services, a portfolio of services that supports customers through the entire lifecycle of a mobile device deployment and integrates with existing Samsung Mobile enterprise offerings.
As the tablet market matures and the device becomes more ubiquitous, its uses and functions will diversify. Some day drivers may use tablets to park their cars, while seniors will use them to track whether they took their medications.
Moms already use tablets to manage their schedules and engage with their children and friends on social media (see story).
“To reach the mass market or the majority market with tablets there needs to be more than one call-to-action or use case,” Mr. Orr said.
Kari Jensen is staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York