Even the biggest tech expects find it difficult to see beyond the buzz when new products or innovations are revealed at CES, but research firm IHS believes that the buzz being generated around ultra-high definition television and wearable technology this year is about to translate into purchases.
So much so that on the eve of the 2014 CES, IHS is revising its forecasts for UHD TV shipments for the year ahead. It believes that shipments are set to rocket this year by 500 percent — as many as 10 million sets could be sold over the course of 2014 — and that by 2018, annual shipments will have hit 38.5 million. However, despite the surge in sales, it will still take some time for the new technology to go truly mainstream.
“While television brands will show off their massive new ultra-high-definition sets at CES, the real focus for UHD makers in 2014 will be cost reduction,” said Jusy Hong, senior analyst for consumer electronics & technology at IHS. “Lower pricing will enable the market to expand — but UHD sets still have a long way to go before they command a major share of the overall market. In 2018, UHD will account for only about 16 percent of all LCD TV shipments.”
There are no such worries about tablets. IHS now believes that shipments will grow by another 72 percent over 2014 and that by 2017, 488 million devices will be shipping annually. Part of the rapid increase is being put down to cheaper and cheaper tablets coming onto the market, but at the same time tablets that run the full version of Windows are also expected to gain a greater foothold over the coming years.
“Shipments of tablets in 2013 and the coming years primarily are being boosted by the massive influx of low-cost white box devices from Asia,” noted Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet research at IHS. “Market volumes in 2014 and beyond also will be driven by rising shipments of PC-type tablets, which will be prominently displayed at CES this year. This will be a make-or-break year for Windows-based PC tablets. Because of that, PC manufacturers will be putting their best foot forward at CES, showing off their most compelling products for the year.”
Wearable technology is expected to be one of the landmark trends of 2014 and a deluge of new devices, from headsets to smartwatches and fitness trackers are expected to debut at this year’s International CES. IHS expects the market for these devices to grow by 155 percent over the next five years to hit 130.7 million units by 2018, compared with the 51.2 gadgets shipped over 2013.
“The wearable electronic device market comprises five disparate segments: military, industrial, infotainment, fitness and wellness, and healthcare and medical,” said Shane Walker, senior manager for consumer and digital health research at IHS. “The market is dominated at present by the healthcare and fitness segments. However, during the next five years, infotainment is expected to experience the largest growth in unit shipments of all areas as consumers flock to buy new types of products, such as smart glasses and smart watches. Because of this strong growth potential, these devices are expected to be highlighted by numerous vendors at this year’s CES.”
Indeed, many are optimistically calling 2014 the year of the smartwatch, predominantly because of continuing rumors that Apple is poised to enter the wearable technology market at some point over the next 12 months.
If the company does launch a product in 2014, there’s a good chance that wearables will see the same explosive growth that tablets are currently enjoying. Don’t forget, the original iPad was only launched on April 3, 2010.