Consumer IoT vendors are looking for growth in the markets disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is forecast that shipments of wearable bands, smart speakers and smart personal audio devices will grow by 9.8% to reach 718 million units in 2020, as more people purchase devices that provide entertainment and help fulfil professional obligations as a result of the lockdown and working from home. These three categories of devices are an extension to the IoT products deployed by both smartphone and platform giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei. Despite a downturn being predicted overall, these vendors have now become more proactive, to ensure that they survive this challenging time.
As people around the world are stuck at home, vendors are moving focus towards helping users learn and work remotely, connect with loved ones and stay both active and entertained during a frustrating period. “Hearable vendor’s still shipping devices via online channels have quickly shifted their marketing messages to highlight key benefits, particularly their conference calling abilities. Consumers are looking for wireless audio devices that offer flexibility for work, education and play. Canalys predicts that smart personal audio device shipments will increase by 15.5% in 2020 to become the fastest-growing consumer IoT segment this year,” said Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen.
For many people, more time has been spent sitting around, meaning that there is also a huge chance for wearable band vendors to increase engagement by promoting access to workouts and the accompanying devices that can help them stay active. It is predicted that shipments of wearable bands will increase by 3.8% this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading and hotspots are moving West to both Europe and the United States, but there does seem to be cautious optimism that it will be under control by the third quarter of this year. Surprisingly, one of the main growth drivers for this in 2020 is expected to be China, as the state is now confident that the pandemic is under control. Safety measures have been put in place to prevent its re-emergence in the country and thus economic activity is expected to resume quickly, enabling consumers to start spending again. Hopefully, the same could be said for other countries when such countermeasures come into effect.
One of the largest challenges faced by the industry now, is the lack of clarity and economic uncertainty. The effects it will have on supply distribution and demand remains unclear. However, companies are informed about the challenges they face and are aware of the course of action they must take to soften the blow. In addition to more proactive marketing to try and stay connected with consumers, it may also be worthwhile for vendors to form new partnerships. As an example, new online services and content providers could grow user bases with services that reach out to ‘stay-at-home’ consumers.