Here are some trends dealing with appliances in 2013:
· Apple TV set and the future of TV. We could have lumped this one in either the Battle for the Living Room or streaming video content. However, given everyone's fascination with what Apple is doing, we expect to see continued speculation of how Apple plans to disrupt the TV-viewing experience through plans for a possible Apple TV set, and the implications from a programming and TV set-manufacturing perspective. Despite Apple’s persistent denials that it is not developing its own TV set, we expect to see more articles about Apple's effort into redesigning a TV set for how we watch today.
· Automated home and smart appliances. As smart appliances and devices like Internet-connected refrigerators and ovens become available, expect more media coverage about them. A problem for smart appliance manufacturers is that people tend to hold onto refrigerators for a long time so what seems smart today won’t feel so smart a decade from now. Appliance makers will need to find ways to make the displays and the software running the smart appliances to be easily upgradeable. Another challenge: The lack of interoperability – the ability for one smart device to be able to communicate effectively with another smart appliance. If you buy one brand of toaster, will it be able to “talk” with your refrigerator? If they can’t, you basically have a Kitchen of Babel. Appliance manufacturers will need to make sure their appliances can talk to each other (and not just to the apps on your smartphone).
· 3D printers: Not yet ready for prime time. 2013 will be the year in which the media proclaims the arrival of 3D printers -- which can make three-dimensional solid copies from an original item. The technology enabling 3D printers has matured significantly but it still seems somewhat of an early adopter item. If people have problems with paper jams in regular printers, just imagine the potential problems with 3D printers. We think that obstacles to purchasing 3D printers, for most households, include limited use for most households, the learning curve on how to use it, costs of the necessary supplies to create 3D replicas, and the need for technical support. We do expect that media and blogger coverage of 3D printers will focus on how cool it is, and that the business press will look at the implications for U.S. manufacturing.
Let us know if you agree or disagree. Check back tomorrow for additional predictions or click here for Part I or Part II.