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January 17th, 2017

Mobile and Connected Devices at CES 2017

It has been a week since CES which has given us time to digest the thousands of announcements and gadgets shown. As a mobility company, our focus was naturally on mobile and connected devices. Here’s a summary of what we got excited (and less excited) about.

The overall winner of the show was Amazon Alexa which according to the show organizer is now integrated with over 700 devices including cars, fridges, smartphones and TVs. This is a key indicator of the year to come as we expect to see voice control, AI and eCommerce integration in more and more devices. It also shows that the battle is on between Amazon, Google, Apple, and to some extent Microsoft to win the heart and minds of the consumers at home.

These were some of the immediate reactions on Twitter:
Twitter reactions to all the voice control announcements at CES17

Ford showed off a new car with Alexa and Volkswagen said they will announce one later this year. In addition, BMW displayed a car powered by Microsoft Cortana and Hyundai one with Google Home. Based on extensive user testing in cars and on smartphones, we at DMI still believe it’s early days for voice interfaces since there are simply too many issues with requests beyond a simple weather forecast or asking for directions.

CES also included some smartphone news including:

  • Huawei Mate 9 which is a nice high-end Android phone at a reasonable price point powered by, you guessed it, Alexa
  • Honor 6X, a cheap high-spec Android phone (Honor is a Huawei brand)
  • Nokia returned with their first smartphones since selling the business to Microsoft in 2014. The new entry-level, Android-powered phones are manufactured by a partner and will initially be launched exclusively in China.
  • Blackberry announced the Mercury phone with Android and a physical keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 and A3 which are the little brothers of the S7 due to be launched at MWC
  • ZTE Blade V8 Pro and Hawkeye (a crowdsourced smartphone with some really weird features)

On the connected gadget side, which we follow with great interest from our IoT & Wearable practice, we saw some interesting (and a few crazy) new products as well.

We were less excited about smartwatches other than Huawei saying that they need to be stuffed full of new features to be successful and Misfit Vapor which looks pretty nice. There was, as expected, considerably less news on smartwatches this year, but a few notable things included:

  • Jewellery brand Swarovski will launch an Android Wear smartwatch at BaselWorld this March. Swarovski follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tag and Fossil as more and more fashion brands step into the new wearable market.
  • Samsung showed Gear 3 which is an updated version of the Gear series with built in LTE and running Android Wear 2.0.
  • Fossil Group demonstrated a couple of new smartwatches with the intention to launch more throughout the year across their portfolio of brands.
  • With the announcement of the Fitbit AppStore we also expect a smartwatch later this year.

In summary, smartwatches and Android Wear is by no means dead (yet).

And lastly, onto some of the crazy and possibly innovative stuff:

  • Withings (owned by Nokia) showed off a smart hairbrush that you don’t need developed in collaboration with L’Oréal.
  • Motive is a ring that thinks it’s a fitness tracker.
  • Willow wearable breast pump.
  • Zeeq smart pillow that keeps track of your sleep patterns and snoring.
  • US denim firm Spinali Design unveiled a whole new range of connected clothing with a twist. The company’s denim shorts, jeans or skirt hide a pair of vibrating sensors that can direct you home.
  • Riding on the wave of the iPhone 7 wireless headphones we also saw a whole heap of design-led headphone companies from around the world.
  • Taclim shoes by Japanese Cerevo is a VR technology able to simulate the feeling of stepping on several different surfaces, including water, desert and grassland, meaning that you may soon be able to go where no man has ever gone before.

And yes, there were a lot of VR gadgets on display but most of the conversation was about the existing devices and who the winners will be in 2017 among Oculus, Samsung, HTC, Google and other manufacturers- as well as the content which will drive demand.

In summary, we’ve got a very exciting year in front of us with Alexa and other smart home devices, voice UI and a never-ending avalanche of connected devices. The best is yet to come in smartphone news from Apple, Samsung and Google. After two years of overhyped smartwatches and wearables we are now seeing the mainstream fashion houses launching devices and with lower expectations they could prove to be successful.

Read more about what we think will impact your business in our trends presentation.

Magnus Jern
Chief Innovation Officer

Tags: Amazon apple consumer electronics show 2017 events Google Microsof Mobility Strategy smartphone news vr gadgets wearables

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