What marketers should expect from consumer tech in 2019

Here is a rundown of major changes set to arrive for consumer technology in 2019 and why marketers should be paying attention.

In an age like ours, it’s tough to say which of the many emerging and advancing technologies have defined years past. I’d argue that there is a case to be made for voice technology being the most impactful in 2018, with the spread and wider acceptance of voice dedicated devices into the home; not to mention the Google demonstration of its voice AI’s potential to blur the lines between man and machine.

All the same, there are myriad technologies to pay attention to in 2019, and nobody can say for sure which will be swept away by the mysterious powers of consumer adoption.

After the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2019 just held in Las Vegas, where technology companies flaunted their most outlandish ideas – many of which never come to fruition – here are several pieces of consumer technology set to change the landscape in 2019.

 

TV

For the most part, this year’s CES TVs saw relatively uninteresting soft upgrades – making screens bigger and putting pixels closer together – great, but not revolutionary.

One item that was catching eyes on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center was the LG Signature OLED TV R – a retractable television that folds up neatly and undetectably into its supporting stand.

LG says the rollable TV should be out in market within the second half of 2019.

 

Apple

Following Apple’s trend of saving big upgrades to the iPhone for every other year, 2019 should see the heavyweight smartphone go through some significant changes. Tentatively referred to as the iPhone 11 or iPhone XI by rumour mills (this one included), technology critics are expecting some big things to come out of Cupertino this year.

Some have speculated that 2019 will finally be the year for Apple to ditch its proprietary ‘Lightning’ port for USB-C, which is steadily becoming the industry standard. CES also saw Apple bring access to its Airplay 2 and Homekit functionalities to several televisions from manufacturers LG, Vizio, Sony and – one of its primary competitors – Samsung.

In light of moves such as these, outlets including CNBC and Yahoo! Finance have begun reporting that Apple’s famous walled garden (closed technology ecosystem) is starting to ‘show cracks,’ following less than optimistic iPhone sales – which Apple CEO Tim Cook blames on the Chinese market – and falling stock prices.

 

Smartphones

Australia is set to become one of the first markets to gain access to 5G mobile connectivity, with the first commercial distributions set to go live in 2019. Apart from faster video streaming, downloading and general web surfing on mobile devices, an upgraded network makes Australia a prime market for leaps in autonomous vehicles, remote medicine and a range of unthought applications.

A big concern for smartphone users in the past couple of years has been what to do about the so-called notch – an artefact of smartphone vendors’ attempts to approach ‘bezel-less’ (edge-to-edge) displays. Last year smartphone makers attacked the problem in some interesting and quirky ways – embedding the fingerprint reader behind the display, placing speakers on the rim of the housing, inserting a motorised housing unit for the front-facing camera to pop out like the antenna of an ‘80s Martian character and even making a return to sliding phones.

This year should see the bezel problem approached with the full force of major manufacturers like Apple and Samsung. Though as Apple’s mystique begins to wear thin and with many of its loyal fans becoming disillusioned with the company’s closed systems and relatively exorbitant prices, we may even see a shift in Western preferences to Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Huawei and One Plus.

 

Autonomous and electric vehicles

The large majority of 2018’s electric car news surrounded production of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan, the cheapest of the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer’s range. Though production of the car started off slow at the beginning of last year, it’s expected to pick up to an increase of 10,000 units per week. Tesla will also continue construction of its latest Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai after overcoming negotiations with the Chinese government.

Tesla is also expected to unveil its highly anticipated Model Y, completing its ‘S’, ‘3’, ‘X’, ‘Y’ range. Last year CEO Elon Musk discussed the car possibly being introduced in March of 2019, though an official date is yet to be announced. Experts speculate that the Model Y will only begin production some time in 2020 at the Gigafactory 1.

Another of introduction to Tesla’s fleet, though not yet confirmed to appear in 2019, is the tentatively named Tesla Pickup (though I’d much prefer Tesla Ute). Musk has teased at a prototype being unveiled in 2019, though fans are hesitant to get too excited.

In terms of legislation, the Australian Government is set to put more work into regulating autonomous driving before it enters the market.

“Without a change to existing laws or new law, there would be no-one to hold responsible for compliance with our road rules when an automated driving system is in control of a vehicle,” said National Transport Commission (NTC) chief executive Paul Retter in a March 2018 statement.

National law regarding autonomous vehicles is likely to be set in place by 2020, with the NTC’s proposed regulation including:

  • Allowing an autonomous driving system (rather than a human) to perform dynamic driving tasks while engaged
  • setting out any obligations of relevant entities and users of automated vehicles
  • providing flexible compliance and enforcement options, and
  • ensuring that there is always a legal entity responsible for driving.

The last of which could spell danger for GM’s prototype Chevy Bolt being barred from Australian roads, seeing as it doesn’t even include an interface for drivers to control the car.

GM chevy bolt no steering wheel

Image credit: GM

The requirement of a legally liable controller of the car would also eliminate – for the time being – the possibility of fully-autonomous and driverless taxis.

 

Further Reading:

 

 

Image credit: rawpixel

Josh Loh
BY Josh Loh ON 16 January 2019
Josh Loh is assistant editor at MarketingMag.com.au