Smartphones Lead CE Convergence

Market research firm IMS Research says that smartphones will represent over half of app-enabled gaming and half of all consumer navigation devices shipped by 2015. 

The company, which monitors convergence trends in consumer electronics, says that the explosion of the smartphone market has driven convergence, and positioned smart devices as critical to the future of the consumer electronics industry. 

“We have already seen the dramatic impact that smartphones have had on stand-alone CE devices, eating into sales for navigation devices, media players, portable game consoles, and digital cameras,” says Bill Morelli, research director with IMS Researchs Convergence Group. “Now we are seeing the larger CE manufacturers such as Samsung and Microsoft working to integrate smartphones even more tightly into their home entertainment strategies.”

The main impact of smartphones on home entertainment devices is an increased focus from the hardware manufacturers and service providers on how to support multiple displays, and integrate smartphones into the user experience, says the company. Initial efforts focused on content transfer between CE devices, such as the set-top box or television and the smartphone. However, companies are now looking at new ways of making the user experience more dynamic.

The increasing importance of smartphones to the future of the CE market was highlighted by Sonys recent buyout of Ericsson to bring its smartphone joint venture back in-house, according to Morelli. “The smartphone market is one of the most competitive markets in the world, and entry for new players is extremely difficult,” he says. “Companies that are interested in pursuing a convergence strategy are now actively trying to determine the best way forward, whether through strategic partnerships (Nokia-Microsoft), or through acquisition of one of the remaining smartphone manufacturers (Google-Motorola).”

However, he cautions that convergence strategies are complex, and just making an acquisition is not sufficient to guarantee success, as HP learned with its webOS purchase last year.