Gadgets in demand

HIDDEN AGENDA - The Philippine Star

There seems to be no let-up as far as consumer spending on technology is concerned.

In a recent report, PricePanda, the leading price comparison website for emerging markets, noted that smaller, faster and more cloud based gadgets have been the trend in technology in 2013. And this trend is expected to continue this year. According to a Forrester Research, global spending on technologies will rise by 6.2 percent to $2.22 trillion.

But in which technologies will this huge amount of money flow? PricePanda  compiled a list of the big trends of technological gadgets in 2014 and here they are:

Wearable technologies: Smart watches like the Sony SmartWatch 2 , life-logging cameras on our collars or fitness bands around the arm – this year electronic devices will be closer to us than ever before. So far over 300,000 smartwatches have been sold. The latest models of smartwatches can even access the app store. Apps for smartwatches seem to become very successful as more than three million of them have been downloaded already.

Phablets – the combination of phone and tablet:  Phablets will be very popular this year. Different from the trend to smaller storage devices like micro SDs, smartphones develop in the opposite direction and become phablets. Soon we will not have a smartphone, tablet and computer but only one device – a phablet. Already 25 percent of the top 20 search requests PricePanda receives are phablets. ABI Research predicts sales of 200 million in 2015.

4K: New definition 4K replaces HD. Whether it is a TV or a tablet that you use – with 4K the visual experience is four times better than with common UHD. Recently, companies like Samsung are offering gadgets with 4K display for affordable money. 12.7 Million 4K TVs are predicted to be sold this year. Chances are high that sales will even do better than that. 

Mobile gaming: In 2014 top tablets include at least a full-HD-Display and a quad-core-processor. The LG G Pad 8.3  – a tablet – transforming into a TV via HDMI-cable into a smart TV. Connection with a gamepad via Bluetooth will make it a gaming console. That enables people to play games wherever they are.

Other side of the story

But the fast changes in technology seems to take a toll on telecom operators

New forecasts from Ovum indicate that telecoms operators will lose $386 billion between 2012 and 2018 from customers using over-the-top (OTT) voice over the Internet Protocol or VoIP solutions such as Skype and Microsoft Lync.

These losses will mostly come from international call revenues, including roaming.

Ovum revealed that the consumer OTT VoIP market is thriving, with traffic expected to grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 20 percent between 2012 and 2018, and to reach 1.7 trillion minutes in 2018. This growth is being driven by improvements in the availability and speed of broadband networks; the growing sophistication, affordability, and capability of smartphones and computers; and the rise of social media.

If the current trajectory is maintained, Ovum expects telcos to lose $63 billion in voice revenues in 2018 as customers use free OTT VoIP solutions.

Erneka Obiodu, principal analyst at Ovum, however notes that unfortunately, telcos must learn to live with this reality, especially with the use of VoIP expected to grow increasingly over the next five years to become the underlying technology for delivering voice over telecoms infrastructure.

Obiodu said that blocking these services, entering into alliances, or trying to out-compete OTT players are not going to stem the OTT VoIP tide. Instead, we encourage telcos to neutralize the price arbitrage that makes OTT VoIP services appealing, Obiodu added.

In North America, where they already offer unlimited/abundance voice bundles, telcos have been able to secure their revenues while leaving customers to use whatever VoIP service they want. Western Europe and developed Asia will all lose revenues for VoIP calls that originate from their fixed broadband infrastructure.

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