Yesterday we looked at the 2008 technology spending market from the small business side. To be charitable, things look "iffy" for IT spending -- at least during the first six months of the year.
Now it appears that, from the technology side of the market, 2008 could be a mixed bag, products-and-services-wise.
One example of that comes from the consumer technology industry analysts from The NPD Group. In a new report released today, key firm analysts say that 2008 could be a year of transition for the consumer technology market. Topping the list of key issues are the impending analog television shut-off, the drive toward connectivity, and the growing penetration of broadband Internet access in American homes. Stephen Baker and Ross Rubin, industry analysts at NPD who write the report, believe the consumer tech market’s moves might not be driven by one specific product or set of products, but instead will be dictated by larger sea changes in the industry.
“As many of the fastest growing electronics categories mature in 2008 overall electronics sale growth is likely to plateau,” says Baker, vice president, information technology industry analysis, at the NPD Group. “Retailers and brands will increasingly look to beyond-the-box services and other offerings to drive continued growth.”
“We are entering the third generation of digital products in many categories, as more consumers have embraced the high-definition experience,” adds Rubin, director, consumer technology industry analysis, at the NPD Group. “The growth of broadband at home -- and the emergence of wireless broadband -- are reshaping how the industry thinks about content and capabilities.”
Following are eight of Baker’s and Rubin’s trends to watch for key products, services, and trends we can expect to see more of in 2008:
1. Analog TV shutoff -- Television broadcasters will end transmission of analog programming over the air in February 2009. While there will be a rush for low-cost subsidized converter boxes, manufacturers and retailers will also try to entice consumers to upgrade to digital televisions.
Connected portable devices -- The greater flexibility and content opportunities afforded by wireless connectivity will drive further experimentation, as we see more products embrace the ability to connect on-the-go. Manufacturers of PCs, portable navigation devices, MP3 players and digital cameras are among those industry segments that are building wireless links into their products.
Broadband video -- Faster broadband access speeds and partnerships among Internet content providers and device manufacturers are bringing new entertainment options into the home. Manufacturers will attempt to capitalize on the value of this differentiation,
but must position such capabilities against existing on-demand entertainment sources.
High definition DVD format war -- Lower prices, greater HDTV penetration, and more content availability will spur the growth of high-definition optical disk players in 2008; however, the current split among Hollywood studios is sure to slow adoption among
consumers who have been waiting for a resolution for the conflict before purchasing a player.
Service and support -- A greater accent on service will be a key industry strategy in 2008. Retailers and OEMs will more actively emphasize service as a key part of product strategies in the coming year.
Retail bundles -- Marketing messages will talk up the benefits of product and service integration, while sales will be focused more on breadth of offer than on price.
Retail channel inflection point -- As the rapidly changing technology product landscape creates new consumer segments, retailers and manufacturers are transforming their businesses to better align with today's customers needs, desires and purchase
preferences. This transformation is breaking apart the old channel structures and giving rise to new "micro-channels" that strive to deliver a retail experience that mirrors these evolving customer segments.
New products need new selling paradigms -- From broadband video to connected devices, the products consumers use are changing, so the methods retailers and OEMs use to merchandise and market these products will need to change along with them.
With businesses and consumers potentially tightening their belts in the first months of 2008, the consumer technology market should be a prickly one for industry companies -- and the investors who might think twice about pouring money into them.