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CES 2017 Devices Blog: Wrap-Up

by Juha Winter | Jan 08, 2017

So, it’s the final day of the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 in Las Vegas, NV, USA and time to wrap up all the exciting new things we’ve seen during the week, between Thursday and Sunday. Analysts from our Emerging Devices Strategies / Wireless Smartphone Strategies / Handset Country Share Tracker / Smartphone Model Tracker services have been attending what is one of the biggest and hottest mobile and electronic trade shows in the world. Over the years and decades, CES has grown significantly from a rather traditional CE focused trade show into a key event for manufacturers of smart home appliances, mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, wearables, virtual reality gear, robots / drones, and automotive infotainment solutions just to name a few key product areas being showcased at the event. And it’s not just the device manufacturers but also the ecosystem partners that are present at the show, showcasing their latest product and service innovations.

Not surprisingly, smartphones, or the ability to share data with or be controlled by smartphones, appeared to be a common theme across most solutions – even if interworking between different devices and solutions still leaves a lot to be desired. Furthermore, diverse service robots and drones were also featured prominently at the show, being one of the main themes.

Our previous device-related analysis and commentary on CES 2017 can be viewed as below:

Other device-related commentaries in (Blog 1Blog 2Blog 3Blog 4).

As always, SA published its pre-show predictions of what we would see. To recap, this is what we expected to see from a devices perspective:

  1. Competitive Chinese Vendors
  2. Competitive Mid / High-tier Smartphones
  3. Captivating AR-compatible Smartphones
  4. Artificial Intelligence on Smartphone / Robot / Drone
  5. Rising Robots and Drones

Looking at the above list, and at item #1, we certainly did see an increased presence and even some brand debuts and products launches such as Xiaomi introducing itself to the US market for the first time and unveiling the Mi Mix White and Huawei Honor 6X being launched in the US and Europe – though both devices have been available in China since October 2016. Huawei also said it would bring the Mate 9 to the US. The company has struggled to gain a foothold in the very competitive and consolidated market, distribution being one key challenge. Fellow Chinese vendors ZTE, TCL-Alcatel, and Lenovo-Motorola, however, have established themselves just behind the top-3 vendors that are Apple, Samsung, and LG.

Smartphones aside, the Chinese company LeEco introduced its Android-powered, connected smart bikes at the event, demonstrating a new area of product innovation from the company. Besides smartphones and TVs, the company is also working on a self-driving electric car. The bikes are expected to be available in the US in Q2 2017.

As for item #2, we saw a number of new smartphone models launched primarily from  Huawei and LG, while TCL-Alcatel outlined its strategy with BlackBerry. TCL-Alcatel also said they would put more weight behind their unlocked and open-channel offerings. LG refreshed its mid-tier K series, unveiled for the first time at last year’s CES 2016. This year, LG further strengthened its K series portfolio by launching the new K3, K4, K8, and K10 models. ZTE also introduced new mid-range smartphones, the Blade V8 Pro and Hawkeye, introducing the Blade series to the US market.

Regarding item #3, Asus launched the ZenFone AR smartphone, marking its entry into the AR smartphone segment. Such devices still remain a niche, with the Lenovo Phab 2 pro being the only other major competitor in the segment. The Asus ZenFone does boast a few firsts, being the only smartphone so far to support both Google Tango and Daydream. It is also the first smartphone to sport an impressive 8GB of RAM and be powered by the Snapdragon 821 processor. Looking at other smartphones launched by Asus at CES 2017, the ZenFone 3 Zoom offers impressive imaging capabilities thanks to its dual 12 megapixel cameras on its back and one front-facing 13MP camera. Further to AR, Huawei announced that its Mate 9 Pro and Mate 9 Porsche Design will be the next phones to conform to the Daydream VR platform, though they won't support the Tango capabilities just yet.

Looking at items #4 and #5, robots and drones, and in particular, personal service robots were demonstrated by multiple vendors. Some were general-purpose personal assistants such as the stationary LG Hub Robot and the mobile Mayfield Robotics’ Kuri. Although these robots are not humanoid in appearance, they have an animated face or other ways of communicating their ‘moods’. The more sophisticated (and also much more expensive) humanoid-shaped companion robots such as the iPal from AvatarMind are capable of detecting and learning emotions in addition to doing facial expressions of their own.

Looking at artificial intelligence on smartphones, the US version of the Huawei Mate 9, already available as of Jan 6, features Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa, stepping up the game against Google and its Google Assistant, currently only available on the Google Pixel devices. Alexa integrates with Amazon’s Echo compatible devices whereas Google Assistant works with Google Home compatible devices. Then there’s Apple with its HomeKit and Siri rounding out the trio, with a plethora of compatible devices also showcased at CES 2017. It will be interesting to see how these three home automation ecosystems and digital assistants gain traction among end users, device vendors, and developers.

Those of us with small children may also be interested to learn that 4moms introduced a ‘moxi stroller’ that charges itself using the kinetic energy of the wheels, powering up electronics that include headlights and taillights, a phone charger and an LCD display that can be hooked up with a smartphone, showing the distance traveled. Generators for capturing kinetic energy and regenerative braking have been used in cars (hybrids and EVs in particular), trains, and other vehicles already for quite some time, so why not strollers?

That wraps up our live coverage of CES 2017, but be sure to check out our various insight reports on the newly announced products, services, and key developments from the event. Also, as said above, SA has cutting-edge expert research available in all of the areas discussed – let us know how we could help your company succeed in 2017 and beyond.

moxi stroller by 4moms

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