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CES 2020 Device Blog: Day 3: TWS Bluetooth, Robots & Foldables

by Ken Hyers | Jan 09, 2020

CES 2020, world’s largest consumer electronics trade show, takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, from Jan 7 (Tue) to Jan 10 (Fri) 2020. Strategy Analytics has a team of analysts across various services in attendance.

Our CES 2020 device pre-show report can be found here. Meanwhile, we are blogging in a daily base on the latest devices and trends that we spotted in the show this week. 

Our CES 2020 Device Blog: Day 2 Smartphone coverage can be accessed here

CES 2020 Device Blog: Day 1: Smartphones here

CES 2020 Preview report: Smartphones available here

On Day Three, we turn our focus to Bluetooth headsets, Robots and foldable display smartphones.

CES2020 is less about Smartphones than ever before

In past years a number of phone makers introduced many innovative new models at CES, but more and more they are saving their best products for standalone launches and for MWC in Barcelona, Spain. Nonetheless interesting new products do come along. This year two of the most interesting smartphone introductions (only one of which is a commercial product) came from the same company, TCL.

TCL at CES2020 introduced the TCL 10 5G, a mid-tier 5G smartphone that is expected to cost less than $500 retail when it goes on sale. TCL plans to reveal more details about the TCL 10 5G at MWC next month in Barcelona.

The other really interesting device shown by TCL at CES2020 is a foldable display prototype smartphone. The smartphone folds like a book, with the display oriented towards the inside, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold (which is currently this analyst’s favorite smartphone and is proving surprisingly usable on a day-to-day basis), the TCL foldable does not have a secondary front display on the outside nor a front facing camera. Also unlike the Samsung Fold, which is the most expensive smartphone currently on the market, the TCL device is expected to be relatively inexpensive – likely less than $1,000. Actual pricing for the foldable is unknown of course, since the device is a prototype, but TCL has developed a reputation for bringing higher-end technology to mid-range smartphones, as the TCL 10 5G shows. We look forward to when TCL finally unveils a market-ready foldable, hopefully sometime in the not too distant future.

The era of wireless freedom is here.

One of the “new” categories that was everywhere is Truly Wireless Headphones (TWS). The category was established way back in 2015 but became mainstream only after first AirPods in late 2016. At CES2020 it became evident that the category is growing fast. Strategy Analytics’ Device Technologies (EDT) practice has recently released a report which shows that the Totally Wireless (TWS) segment grew a whopping 200% annually in 2019 and triple digit growth is expected in 2020 as well.

Among the companies that announced TWS headsets at CES2020 were: Jabra, Panasonic, Technics, Klipsch, Nuheara, Ausounds, Edifier, JBL, Shure, 1More and Audio-Technica. It would be unintuitive to claim that Apple has no effect on the development in this market. Apple’s influence is clearly visible with the number of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) powered TWS headsets appearing to markets just a few months after Apple announced AirPods Pro. Of the many TWS headsets unveiled at CES2020, a number are coming with ANC.  Strategy Analytics estimates that in 2020 sales of the ANC powered TWS headsets will see nearly 370% growth year-on-year.

TWS Examples again

Among the ANC powered TWS headsets there were: Klipsch T10, Klipsch T5 ANC, Ausounds Hybrid ANC, 1More’s True Wireless ANC, Nuehara IQbuds2 MAX, Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW, Panasonic RZ-S500W, Technics EAH-AZ70W, Edifier TWS NB, etc. Common for all these TWS headsets is that those are still very heavily positioned at the premium segment of TWS headsets. The most expensive pair is by far the Klipsch T10 retailing at US$649. Strategy Analytics estimates that the TWS category has already grown to be the biggest subsegment of Bluetooth headsets with 53% share and will take 87% of Bluetooth headset market by 2024.


Samsung Ballie and LOVOT

Service robots, both personal service robots and professional service robots, are growing fast as recent EDT research shows. At CES2020, several robots from vendors such as Charmin, Samsung, Sarcos, PuduTech, GROOVE X, Toyota, WHILL, PostMates, BrainCorp, Agility Robotics, etc were showcased.

One of the most interesting new innovations was the Samsung Ballie. Samsung Ballie is designed to be more than just another cool robot; it is designed to become an owner’s personal life companion. Ballie follows its owner everywhere and act as always present artificial intelligence assistant. It has all the functionalities of a standard smart speaker; it can control your home appliances, remind of meetings, do voice searches from internet, act as fitness instructor and so much more. The future of Ballie is still unclear and it is unknown if it will ever get into production, but it is a great showcase device of Samsung’s vision for what the future will look like. Service robots are increasingly becoming a part of our lives and robots such as Ballie are one of the more interesting offerings that could be available soon.

However, this analyst does not believe that Ballie would be successful in his own household, as his two dogs would make short work of the tennis ball-like robot. Buyers beware, Ballie looks remarkably like a dog toy!


Another interesting toy-like robot at CES was LOVOT from GROOVE X. LOVOT is a cute looking companion robot that does not have any virtual assistant features but is meant to be more an entertainment robot. LOVOT can autonomously drive around owners home and even detect when you come home to welcome you. LOVOTS can communicate with each oters through pseudo language but it cannot speak any language. LOVOT can detect when you stroke or pet it and respond to your affection. Through companion app it can be programmed to e.g. take pictures when you smile at it or monitor baby or even do some home surveillance at your home when away. LOVOT is an excellent example of the types of edutainment robots Strategy Analytics expects to grow rapidly during next years.


Please stay tuned into our Blog Page for continuous coverage and updates from CES 2020.

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