China is fast becoming the biggest player in the Next Generation consumer electronics market, while TV continues to drive volume and value. These were just two facts to emerge from a fascinating technology overview provided at the annual IFA Global Press conference 2017, a precursor to this September’s IFA tech show in Berlin.

Over 300 media representatives from around the world attended the event in Lisbon, including Inside CI, which offered up deep insights into the state of the consumer tech sector, with analysis, market stats and research provided by both GfK and IHS Markit.

The so-called Digital World, which incorporates Telcos, IT and CE, will be worth 945 billion US$ in 2017, said Jurgen Boyny, GfK’s Global Director of Consumer Electronics, rising to 954 billion in 2018.

Digital World

Boyny Stage

Emerging markets are driving the bulk of the business. China, driving sales in wearables and leading in mobile pay use, is predicted to be as big as North America, both claiming 23 per cent of the tech pie in 2018. Western Europe will follow with 16 per cent, according to Digital World Regional Share Value, by GfK Boutique.

Currently the main driver of this unified Digital World is mobile connectivity. Global sales of smartphones will reach 1.55 billion devices in 2018, up from 1.48 in 2017 and 1.41 in 2016.

Interestingly, while the smartphone market is leading innovation, TV remains the most profitable conventional CE sector.

According to a GfK forecast, global sales of TVs will hit 230 million in 2017, rising to 243 million in 2018. By 2020, 259 million sets are expected to be sold worldwide. The biggest single area for growth with be the APAC region, with 102m sets sold in 2020. Sales in Western Europe and North America are expected to remain flat at 46 and 35m respectively.

Inevitably, big screen sales are rising. In 2016, 18 per cent (40.7m) screens were sold in the 50-59-inch range. 60-inches and above accounted for 5 per cent (11.6m). In 2017, 50.1 million TVs in 50-59-inch screen sizes are predicted to be sold, with 60+ rising to 7 per cent (16.3m). Come 2020, 26 per cent (67.5m) 50-59-inch TVs are expected to be sold globally. The super-large category of 60+ inches is also expected to jump to 11 per cent of the market (28.1m).

According to Mediametrie, the US has the highest average daily watch time, with 269 minutes of linear TV consumed daily. Europe follows at 235 minutes.

Interestingly, Gfk declined to offer predictions on OLED TV growth. There are too many unknowns at the moment, explained Boyny, with new brands coming to the technology and no clear idea on how OLED prices are going to shake down.

VR Predictions

Gray Crowd

Currently Samsung is the only major TV brand without an OLED proposition. “I think they are starting to find it a bit lonely out there,” quipped IHS analyst Paul Gray (pictured above).

GfK continues to be optimistic about VR. A survey by the research organisation of 1,268 consumers in the UK in 2016, found that gaming was the main pastime for VR owners, with 70 per cent of consumers happy to wear headsets to blast aliens. Interestingly, 65 per cent of buyers were also interested in watching VR video conten

52 per cent of VR users were interested in education, 51 per cent for communications with both and travel planning polling a 48 per cent use.

“The boundaries between consumer electronics and home appliances, the digital and the physical worlds, are blurring,” declared Berlin Messe CEO Christian Göke. “We believe it’s time to define consumer electronics in a new way. From entertainment to healthcare, mobile devices, gaming, to new fields like drones, virtual, augmented and mixed reality and consumer electronics connects everything.”


One area that IFA isn’t embracing though is automotive. “We would need cars to be sold through CE channels before that would happen,” said Jens Heithecker, IFA Executive Director (pictured above). However he admitted it was probably more a question of when rather than if. “At present we have no additional space to invite in auto brands anyway” he shrugs.

Ubiquitous connectivity continues to drive growth. At IFA GPC 2017, Philips unveiled an IoT (Internet of Teeth) iteration of its DiamondClean electric toothbrush, which has numerous sensors in the head which enables brushes to use an app to check their cleaning coverage.

The Smart speaker market is also expanding rapidly. Boyny predicts sales will hit 60 million units globally by 2020, provided consumers learn to trust the technology. “Security and privacy are big consumer concerns,” he comments.


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