What CES 2015 Means for the Connector Industry
At a glance, here’s a quick look at the show’s product highlights, and what CES 2015 means for the connector industry.
CEA.org has projected $223 billion in US consumer electronics factory shipments of more than 100 product categories. This would be a modest 3% increase from 2014 and would place the world consumer electronics (CE) market at more than $1 trillion. These numbers cross several markets, including computers, telecommunications, home appliances, and automotive. According to CEA, emerging product categories such as 4K TV, wearables, robots, drones, connected appliances, and others will more than double sales in 2015.
This year’s show highlighted several high-growth areas, all of which use connector products in some applications. Among the brightest offerings, some of which may be vaporware, were:
- Autonomous vehicles from Daimler-Benz and Audi and Ford’s Sync 3.0 from Microsoft
- Drones, with the most popular being quad helicopters
- Home robots and personal assistants
- 4K (and a few 8K) HDTVs – bigger, brighter, curvilinear, with OLED and quantum dot technology
- Wearables, with an emphasis on style, fitness, and medical applications
- Fancy home appliances and connected thermostats, linked by the Internet of Things
- Virtual reality goggles for mainstream use, bolstered by Facebook’s acquisition of Ocular Rift
- Expanded video-streaming services that offer serious competition to cable companies
- Bluetooth and NFC wireless applications for smartphones, speakers, and other gear
What does this all mean to the connector industry? Here are our observations:
- If you are a competitive low-cost/high-volume producer, CE is a large and growing market.
- CE is breaking out into new application areas, closely linked to other connector markets.
- Sensors could be an attractive match for some connector companies.
- Streamlined design continues with tighter internal packaging, more integration, and all-wireless requirements.
- LCDs are everywhere, with opportunities for LCD and FPC connectors.
- 4K TV will overtake standard HDTV over the next five to seven years as costs come down.
- HDMI 2.0 will stream 4KHD video and become the de facto standard, requiring fewer IO connectors per set.
- Microsoft is becoming a credible competitor to Apple with its new products and retail stores.
- Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is a leading design contender, arguably more versatile than the MacBook Air.
- CPU and memory sockets are being replaced by direct attach connections to save space and lower costs.
- There is evidence that demand for tablets and high-end smartphones is slowing.
- Notebooks and convertible PCs have adopted the best features of tablets.
- Notebook prices have decreased to compete against the better tablets.
- Wearables will be a high-volume market but with little discrete connector content.
- There is a plethora of CE product areas that use connectors: keyboards and other I/O devices, HD radio, audio, games, toys, and emerging devices for the Internet of Things, robotics, and next-generation wearables.
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