By 2020 there will be in excess of 4.2 billion M2M connected Consumer Electronic devices in use worldwide, the majority of which will be connected Audio Visual Sources (1.7 billion) and Displays (1.1 billion), primarily driven by consumer demand for web-TV and internet audio-sources. Machina Research doesn’t count tablets and eReaders in the Consumer Electronics category (we have a separate forecast category for PCs, tablets and handset data), but including tablets and eReaders would add another 900k devices (that’s including media tablets, enterprise tablets and building control tablets – these devices will become platforms, in much the same way PCs are today, and a touchscreen is really just another human interface device), bringing the total to 5.1 billion devices.
The White Goods market will begin to adopt M2M connectivity towards the end of the decade, as smart metering and pro-active energy management become more prevalent. By 2020 the market for M2M connected Consumer Electronics will be worth EUR400 billion, with Europe and Emerging Asia Pacific being the largest regional markets. However, with the vast majority of devices likely to be connected by means of short-range technologies, and with some applications being very data-hungry, connected Consumer Electronics devices are more likely to be a headache for fixed network operators than a revenue opportunity for mobile network operators. Unless the mobile industry can significantly reduce the cost of embedded modules, that is. This is something of a hot topic for me at the moment – I’ve blogged on it before, and I’ll be investigating module costs in some more depth over the coming months.
The main driver behind the adoption of M2M connected Consumer Electronics devices is the potential for connected devices to offer a better user experience than non-connected equivalents. The second big driver will be the potential for M2M connected devices to be more energy-cost efficient by timing periods of heavier power consumption to coincide with periods when electricity is cheaper. But there is no sweet-spot. There is no Consumer Electronics device for which M2M connectivity can both significantly improve user experience and substantially reduce operating costs.
And, yes, many fridges and freezers will one day be connected. But not to tell you what you had for breakfast that morning, or to send you an email that you are running low on milk. The ‘killer apps’ for connected fridge-freezers are ice making and defrost cycles. Both of these functions consume significant amounts of power, and can be easily shifted to times of day when power is cheaper. Connected fridges and freezers won’t be a big market opportunity any time soon, but they will be one day. And, anyway, a better way to monitor your stock levels of various household essentials would be to place RFID-, or barcode-, scanners near household bins. If you really wanted to do that, that is.