As the holiday season arrives, and major consumer technology events such as CES and MWC are fast approaching, we asked Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner, for her view on what technologies will be in demand.
Q: What will be the best-selling consumer technology this holiday season?
A: Smartphones and wearables will be on top of the shopping list this season. We expect to end 2015 with 14.5 percent year-on-year smartphone growth, with 1.4 billion units shipped globally. Earlier in the year there was fear in the industry that due to economic challenges in China the smartphone market would grow much less this year. We expect that the Chinese smartphone market will be nearly flat year over year in 2015.
While tablets have been popular gifts the past couple years, some of the excitement and spending will shift to wearables this season. Our user survey revealed that adoption of fitness trackers in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015.
Q: Will any one type of device dominate the wearables market?
A: Fitness trackers will still outsell smartwatches, partly because of their lower price tags, but also because the use case for those devices is clearer for most consumers than a smartwatch. Among the popular gifts this season will be various Fitbit models, The Apple Watch Sport, Jawbone Up, Moto 360 and Pebble. Both Samsung and Lenovo had special Black Friday offers for their smartwatch products, so that could help sales as well.
Smartwatch vendors have all refined their products for holiday sales. Pebble has launched Pebble Health that brings the vendor’s own fitness and health tracking software to its devices. Apple has introduced more colors, such as rose gold and gold to its Apple Watch Sport line — which seems to be the most popular version. There are also new brands expected on the market, for example the Fossil Q Founder smartwatch running Android Wear, which is priced below the Apple Watch.
Q: What consumer trends do you expect to see at CES 2016?
A: We will see a wide range of new products and solutions around connected home and wearables in January, as well as refinements to what is already on the market. Some vendors have been talking about foldable displays for several years and, as users are moving toward bigger screens these days, the idea of having a device with a decent screen that is still “pocketable” is interesting.
In the wearable space we will see more products with a specific focus. The general fitness band is now mainstream, so vendors are currently diversifying to target specific groups. Kids and seniors are obvious audiences where we’ve already seen a number of products. This year vendors will add devices for specific industries such as healthcare, retail and other sectors that support specific use cases. Solution vendors such as FitPay are building partnerships with wearable vendors to make mobile payment easier. Focusing on a specific use case, coupled with transparency toward the user as to what happens with their personal data, is key for these vendors going forward.