From cars to 3D TVs – connectivity will be central in 2011. Photo: Jürgen Boyny, global director, Consumer Electronics, GfK
The IFA event in Berlin, coming up this September, is one of the biggest consumer electronics and home appliances trade shows in the world, with more than 134,000 sq feet of product displays from 1,423 exhibitors showing the next steps in consumer technology.
Speaking during a preview of the kind of technology that will be unveiled later this year, Jürgen Boyny, global director for consumer electronics at GfK Retail and Technology, said €668bn will be spent on consumer electronics worldwide in 2011.
Boyny believes that there will be 6pc growth in 2011, not as high as it was in 2010, which saw growth of 19pc. There was an unexpected surge of electronics purchases in 2010, due to factors such as countries transferring from analogue to digital TV services and recently introduced energy-efficiency schemes for home electronics.
In Europe, the World Cup influenced a huge boost in purchases of TVs and audio systems during the middle of 2010. It is estimated that Europe will make up 28pc of total sales this year.
Boyny also pointed out that the EU will introduce a mandatory energy labelling system for televisions in November, which will have a big influence on purchases.
Among product sales, 3pc of them will be made up of tablet computers, a testament to how popular they've become since Apple launched the iPad last year. Desktop PCs will still be in demand, taking up 7pc of consumer electronics purchases.
Boyny also predicts that in Europe, 4.5m 3D televisions will be purchased, five times the amount purchased in 2010.
Smartphones will remain highly popular products, comprising 16pc of electronics purchases this year.
Connectivity - big trend of 2011
Dr Rainer Hecker, chairman of the supervisory board at GfK, believes one of the biggest trends in 2011 will be in connectivity. By giving a wider range of electronic products connectivity to the web and to other mobile devices, consumers will be able to retrieve content on any device anywhere. Hecker sees the expansion of connected devices in products such as cars and TVs as big areas of growth.
Connectivity has tied in well with the functionality of apps and Hecker believes that people are less interested in the hardware and are more focused on what the software can offer their lifestyle.
Vendors at the preliminary event highlighting this shift included Samsung and Ford showing their own connected products. Samsung displayed its smart TV, the D8000, with its 3D visuals, Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in apps, such as Skype.
Samsung believes that while TVs won't replace laptops for internet consumption, web-connected devices can help bring contextual content to enrich the TV-watching experience. For example, while looking for a movie to watch, users can view information on the film from the web or watch trailers or videos about it on YouTube directly from their televisions.
According to a survey by GfK among European countries in May 2010, 52pc use the internet while watching TV with 63pc doing so through laptops, 42pc doing this with non-portable PCs and 13pc doing this with smartphones.
However, integrating the internet and TV experience is still in its early days, with just 2pc of survey participants engaging with the web on television sets. Perhaps with a greater range of smart TVs in future, these multitasking consumers could be more inclined to do both activities on one device.
Similarly, Ford believes that bringing connectivity to cars will introduce a huge range of options for drivers. Its Ford SYNC technology allows users to connect mobile devices with their car, including smartphones, MP3 players and even modems to create a Wi-Fi hotspot for the vehicle.