8 electronics industry predictions for 2019 from ByteSnap
11 January 2019
With 2018 behind us, engineers at award-winning electronics design consultancy, ByteSnap Design, specialists in hardware & software design for innovative embedded systems development, forecast what 2019 holds for the electronics industry...
1. Voice assistants will become more versatile
Our first electronics industry prediction for 2019 addresses the growing popularity of voice assistants. As Amazon and Billy Bass join forces, we expect the functionality of voice assistants to improve during 2019. Look out for enhanced connectivity and extra features. Google Assistant, for instance, has recently been updated with routines – so you can say “I am going to bed” and Google Assistant will interpret that as “Turn off the light, lower the thermostat and switch off the TV”.
It’s also likely these up-scaled voice assistants will be implemented into more devices and environments, such as cars or children’s toys – in particular, animatronics and pet robots.
2. Greater traction for IoT in conservative markets
We’re likely to experience a maturing of IoT across 2019, as it establishes a greater foothold in industrial applications, construction and other more traditional verticals, rather than being mainly consumer-driven.
This expansion in more slow-moving industries will be fuelled by the normalisation of connected technologies in society – and with it a reduction in the perception of risk associated with their adoption, plus improvements in IoT security, which has been a major focus for semiconductor manufacturers.
3. A resurgence for smart glasses
Smart glasses will gain greater industry prominence over the next 12 months – and they’re likely to re-emerge with very specific use cases in mind, rather than Google’s approach of a replacement for your phone. For instance, cycling glasses with navigation built in or specialised heavy duty glasses for use on construction sites could be potential uses.
4. Electric vehicle batteries to decrease in size
Although EVs with larger batteries tend to dominate the press, counter-intuitively, another electronics industry prediction we have is for an increasing market for EVs with small batteries in the foreseeable future – primarily for urban driving.
We also expect to that 2019 will see the start of a drive which sees small battery BEVs decreasing in size over the coming decades. This is due to a range of factors, including relatively short average trip/commute distances, growing availability of charging points, and cost reductions as technology improves and volumes increase.
We expect in 2019 to see really strong growth in EV (BEV) sales. They have been widely production constrained and – given the poor market in the rest of the automotive sector and the cut back in allowances on PHEVs – BEVs will surge.
5. 5G infrastructure rollout to be ramped up
The first 5G-ready phones are due to be released in the next few months. As 5G communications continue to be developed around the world, we believe there will be a greater push by network operators to start the rollout of 5G infrastructure in the UK this year. The West Midlands region – designated the UK’s 5G testbed by the Government – has been awarded £75 million of funding for the task. Despite the lack of cohesion regarding a global 5G rollout and the applications focus (Low latency – for, say, control of vehicles from the cloud? Super-high data rate? Low power, for IoT-type devices?), we anticipate considerable growth in the UK’s 5G infrastructure in 2019 to herald the arrival of 5G devices next year.
6. Fitness trackers will become more sophisticated
There was an increase in the number of companies launching their own fitness trackers during 2018. To compete with an increase in competition, expect to see developers step up their game this year and improve what their trackers can actually detect. For example, they currently can detect your steps, sleep quality and heart rate, so in theory they should be able to detect if you are ill, if you have a lower amount of steps, a poorer quality of sleep and a higher heart rate – and can then offer advice to you. This could potentially link in with Amazon’s Alexa, which has patented technology to tell if you are ill based on your voice, and give you product recommendations.
7. No let-up in mergers & acquisitions – but brakes applied to mega-mergers
Qualcomm were blocked from taking over NXP by the Chinese Government in 2018. Despite the cancellation of $44 billion dollar deal – Qualcomm still seem keen to expand in the semiconductor space – so look out for updates on their takeover ambitions over the next few months. Other circling big hitters include Broadcom, Cypress and Microchip.
Amongst all the takeover activity this year, however, we anticipate that the mega-mergers the industry has seen in the past – such as Avago Technologies’ $37BN acquisition of Broadcom in 2016 – are unlikely to be repeated during 2019. A number of factors support this: global trade tensions, increasing regulatory activity around mergers and stock market underperformance in the sector last year.
Therefore, it looks to us as though double digit deals (at least those north of $20BN) will be thin on the ground during 2019.
8. Growth for smart gardening
And to round off our electronics industry predictions for the coming year – growth for IoT in our gardens…
IoT has now been through the buzzword phase, where everyone jumps on the bandwagon and big money is being thrown at people with slick suits who often have no clue what they’re doing. The fridge that orders your food isn’t in anyone’s kitchen, but most of the hype has moved to cryptocurrency and self-driving vehicles now – so this is a good time for some IoT devices which genuinely improve people’s lives to come into their own.
While there are some who love the process of mowing the lawns and watering plants, there are a large number – especially in tech-savvy generations – who consider this to be the kind of drudgery that technology can handle. Many in these cohorts can’t afford houses with gardens, but as more of them do, we expect 2019 to be a good year for robot gardening. Other areas to remove boredom with IoT are probably the place to look for genuinely useful applications which people will buy to make their lives better.
Do you agree with ByteSnap's electronics industry predictions? Or do you think other trends and areas of the sector – such as cybersecurity, FinTech or Agri-Tech – will dominate industry headlines instead this year?...
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