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Six of the Best at CES 2020

Last week’s CES tech expo in Las Vegas delivered on its promise of being the world’s premier launchpad of new gadgets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



There is any number of reasons CES in Las Vegas is renowned as the world’s biggest launchpad for new gadgets. Previously known as the Consumer Electronics Show, it has for 52 years been the showcase for technology products that are about to be unleashed on the market. In recent years, it has also become the prime location for unveiling new automotive technology, as vehicle manufacturers have woken up to the high profile the show gives to high-tech. It is no surprise then, that a car made the biggest impact of all the launches at CES this year.

This is our pick of the top 6 launches at last week’s CES:

Transport: Hyundai Personal Air Vehicle

The Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) model S-A1, which looks like the offspring of a marriage between a drone and a light aircraft, is in fact a flying car. It was developed by Hyundai Motor Company and Uber Elevate, a division of the Uber ride-sharing company developing shared air transportation. The PAV is a 4-passenger electric vehicle designed to take off and land vertically, and cruise at up to 290 km/h, 600 metres above ground, with a 100km range. Initially, it will have a pilot, but will eventually be autonomous. Elevate is collaborating with seven aircraft manufacturers, with Hyundai the first automotive company to join the initiative. It is scheduled for takeoff in 2023, which means it is a rare example of a concept vehicle launched at CES that has a real-world launch date in mind.

TV: Samsung Sero TV

LG stole the show with a roll-down TV that hides in the ceiling when not in use, a follow-up to its roll-up TV from CES 2019. But with the latter expected to cost $60,000, one can’t call it a consumer favourite. There is no pricing available yet for Samsung’s answer, the  Sero, but it certainly has the consumer in mind. It is described as a “versatile lifestyle TV”, and can be flipped 90 degrees to allow viewers to watch content created in vertical formats. TikTok or Snapchat, anyone?

Robotics: Sarcos Guardian XO

Robots were big at CES this year, but most were designed as cute companions or to spare us from routine tasks like feeding pets. Big deal! The real big deal in robots was truly big, but the Guardian XO is not exactly a machine to be controlled from a distance. Instead, it is a robot one can wear. It is a battery-powered, full-body “exoskeleton”, designed to boost human performance and help prevent injury while lifting heavy objects. By bearing the weight of the suit and the payload, the exoskeleton can enable an employee to lift up to 90kg repeatedly for up to eight hours at a time without strain or fatigue. The first likely customer? Not the military, but Delta Air Lines – which is exploring the technology for its employees. 

Read more on the next page about the new Impossible meat, a portable medical diagnostic device, and wireless charging from up to 10 meters away.

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Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC



International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

2018 Market
2023 Market
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s



Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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