Electronic devices, along with the entire industry of technology, have been experiencing exponential growth in the last couple of years. Devices are getting more powerful, smaller, better integrated, more intelligent, and more useful.
One wonders what trends are coming next and what the future holds. What better place to ask than one of the Czech Republic’s leading electronics retailers, Alza.cz, and its Marketing Director, Jaromír Řánek. We sat down with him at the Alza Café in Holešovice to discuss 2012 and the future of technology.
2012 in Retrospective
According to Řánek, 2012 proved to be a very strong and successful year, and one which saw some major product lines becoming the driving factors for further growth. Alza.cz saw a major growth in the so-called ultrabook sector – i.e., sleek and sexy notebooks which tend to come with a premium price and offer the latest technology in the slimmest and smallest package possible. These ultrabooks have become increasingly popular with fashion savvy business professionals who are often on the move and require a mobile, compact, yet powerful tool for their jobs, as well as the general public, who wish to have something sleek and practical for their daily activities.
Our tip: Acer Aspire S7-391
In 2012, tablet devices proved to be stable performers, and the market for these has been expanding ever since. Tablets from various manufacturers running multiple operating systems have attracted virtually all possible users, from the young students all the way down to successful businessmen requiring the best possible performance and design. Smart TVs have also seen a big year. These TVs have experienced a surge in interest, largely due to the fact they are connected to the internet, offer options for using Skype, browsing YouTube videos, and much more.
Our tip: LG 47LM660S
Software also saw a major growth in 2012. What Řánek mentioned grew considerably were licenses for software to download, such as operating systems (MS Windows), security programs, Microsoft Office and games. Users are clearly drifting away from purchasing boxed versions of software, and purchasing software they can just download and buy online – often at a lower cost and with more convenience. This goes hand-in-hand with games and gaming consoles, which have traditionally been very popular, and not less so in 2012.
A very nice surprise, according to Řánek, was that 2012 spelled the return of the formerly revered desktop PC. This time, however, they are not the same old large boxes with a separate monitor, but integrated PCs offering everything in one package, under one sleek and stylish hood. Surely, Řánek mentioned, this surprise trend is set to continue until 2013, bringing us to a more exciting topic: trends that are set to change the current year that has just begun.
Trends for 2013 and onwards
One major factor for the trends to come, i.e. their distribution and success, has to do with the prolific growth of internet shopping in the Czech Republic – a trend that has, in some aspects, surpassed that of the West. According to Řánek, there is a growing number of clients aged 60+ who purchase online through Alza.cz, and in general, a growing interest in purchasing products online. With this, there is an increasing demand for a wider portfolio from retailers.
Řánek mentioned that, much like in 2012, ultrabooks and tablets are set to continue growing. With an ever-growing selection and more features, the future looks bright indeed. While most products can be characterized and categorized relatively easily, there is a new trend of products that combine features from multiple product lines. As an example, Řánek referred to laptops that have a detachable screen that can serve as a stand-alone tablet. There are also new mobile-camera hybrids which run on Android and allow the user the usability of both an advanced camera and a mobile phone. As Řánek mentioned, these new products are referred to as “electronic convertibles.”
Our tip: Samsung Galaxy Camera GC100
Convergence of technology into single, multi-purpose, and intelligent devices is a trend that most certainly will be more and more visible through 2013. There is a growing interest in devices that measure, for example, heartbeat, blood pressure, and much more. As Řánek summarized it, there is clear and upcoming trend to minimize size while maximizing the usability. These devices are connected with your mobile phones and computers, and allow you to monitor and improve your health whether you are a successful young person or, in later years, willing to improve the quality of your adult life.
A further trend would be home appliances (microwaves, fridges, washing machines and other devices) having their own intelligence and being able to communicate among each other and essentially, with their owners. A great example of this would be Samsung’s T9000 smart fridge, with an integrated tablet, introduced at this year’s CES 2013.
With the onset of smart phones and wireless connectivity, such control is now becoming only a few gestures or clicks away. This is something Alza predicts to grow; the company is already experiencing a growing interest and demand for such intelligent electronic products.
Alza, whose turnover has surged from 302 million CZK in 2002 to 7.65 billion CZK last year, have certainly enjoyed being at the forefront of tech trends through the past decade. What new products are you looking forward to this year?