By Chris Ahern, Chief Executive Officer at ZAGG Brands
As we enter the new decade, this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and take a moment to process the latest mobile technology developments.
Not all of the trends we saw in 2019 have yet developed their full potential. However, they sparked a discussion and will increase their transformational impact on the business world by evolving further in the future.
In 2020, mobile devices and screens will continue to evolve, and we will see more innovative displays such as waterfall, folding or dual displays. It is also anticipated that power will become even more important next year. It will no longer be a luxury, but more of a mobile necessity.
In line with these mobile evolutions, ZAGG Brands will continue to innovate and provide world class accessories. As an industry leader in the mobile accessories market, ZAGG Brands’ strategy includes the acquisition or licensing of innovative brands and technologies (the company already acquired Gear4, BRAVEN and HALO in the last 12 months) and the investment in a dedicated R&D team to constantly innovate and meet evolving customer needs.
At ZAGG Inc, we have identified four major trends that we expect to take off and drive the market in 2020.
Power, power, power
Whether we are talking about smart cities, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, video streaming, e-sports or cashless payments – all trends depend heavily on mobile devices having the battery power to ensure they work efficiently. But how will mobile power change in 2020 and what are new and innovative ways of power management and charging?
For wireless charging, we expect faster charging with speeds well over 10W, even up to 20W. Faster power means devices can be recharged quicker. This is good news for larger electronic devices such as tablets and computers, which will benefit from wireless charging. In terms of charging pads, we can also expect wireless connection to span larger spans of spaces around the centre point of charging pads. Currently, most wireless charging devices must be placed near the power source. In the future, charging at a distance will become a reality. This “positional freedom” means users will have the ability to drop the device anywhere on the charging pad and not have to worry about charging. Potentially, we will also see pads big enough to charge multiple devices with positional freedom. This development will revolutionize the user experience.
Furthermore, wireless charging will be integrated into more devices than just mobile phones, which were among the first devices to adopt the technology. Almost anything that currently needs to be plugged in for power will potentially adopt wireless charging – tablets, laptops, and even electric vehicles eventually. As part of the natural product lifecycle, wireless charging will become more of a reality as people look to replace devices that require wired charging today.
Wired charging is another area where we can soon expect higher speeds and more capable charging technologies like power delivery (PD). In recent years, USB charging speeds were limited to 5W, whereas now, device makers sell 18W chargers. This trend of advanced power delivery will continue in 2020 thanks to research and development in several areas, including Gallium Nitride (GaN), USB-PD, Quick Charge 4.0/5.0, advances in wireless power delivery, and alternative battery and power storage technologies. Some of these technologies are either still too expensive or cannot yet be scaled. But the technology that jumps those two hurdles first will become the new standard of the future.
Proclaimed as the biggest trend in 2020, 5G will be big next year but we anticipate gradual growth in contrast to the massive growth some have predicted. We expect 5G to be introduced in high population areas first, where demand is high, as well as key urban centres such as the financial centre of large cities (New York City, London, Berlin, Paris), sports arenas and stadiums. Acquiring the spectrum and building out the requisite technology networks will be a costly and lengthy process for the carriers. This means the speed of growth will be gradual, and we believe it is most likely to mirror what we saw during the transition from landlines to wireless. In years to come, landlines phones and wired internet connections will be overtaken by highspeed wireless technologies. As 5G becomes more ubiquitous with time, people will move away from traditional routers and Wi-Fi access points and rely solely on 5G connectivity for internet connection.
ZAGG Brands will ensure all its mobile accessories are compliant with 5G, meaning they won’t interfere with or impede the 5G signal. This process has already been put into practice. Protective cases by Gear4 (a ZAGG Brands company), have already been reengineered from a materials perspective and are being rigorously tested to ensure 5G compliance. The company’s other brands will follow suit in the near future.
As 5G will offer faster streaming and video delivery services for media such as Netflix, the reliance on and attachment to mobile devices will only increase accordingly. As such, device protection and power solutions will become a necessity, and we expect to see stronger demand for these products in 2020.
As mobile devices get more innovative and technologically advanced, it is inevitable that the associated price for new devices grows as well. True, the most premium manufacturers can sell smartphones at $1,000-plus, but those smartphone buyers have become far less likely to buy the newest phones after paying such premium prices. Today’s smartphone user is opting for more affordability as evidenced by slowing handset sales during 2H 2019. Although this shift in consumer appetites has led mobile phone manufacturers to strengthen their entry-level and mid-tier portfolios, we can expect the second-hand market to strengthen next year as people seek more affordability in refurbished devices. Persistence Marketing Research’s recent report estimates the global refurbished and used mobile phone market will expand by 8.9 per cent CAGR by 2025, reaching $39 billion, up from $20 billion in 2017.
Another motivation for customers to buy second-hand is the desire to create less waste and incorporate sustainability into their everyday life. This sustainability trend also extends into the peripherals market and will continue to be a strong focus for ZAGG Brands in 2020 and beyond.
Sustainability is a key global trend impacting businesses and people in their everyday life. The growing public awareness about issues such as plastic pollution has created a lasting momentum, which is driving companies to rethink how they are doing business and how they can make the transition to a sustainable society and economy. In 2020, we expect this trend to grow with an increasing number of customers making environmentally-conscious purchasing decisions. This will have a transformational impact on every aspect of the business, from a company’s supply chain operations to its employee practices and the physical workspace itself.
Corporate social responsibility and sustainability have long been an integral part of ZAGG Brands’ business and corporate culture. Issues surrounding these topics have been woven into the company’s fabric since its inception. In 2018, ZAGG Brands convened a “Sustainability Working Group” consisting of dedicated internal resources and external advisors. The goal of the Sustainability Working Group is to improve long-term performance using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors with a specific focus on supply chain, product packaging, cybersecurity, diversity, and reducing waste as a company and as individuals. Concretely, ZAGG Brands is taking a closer look at sustainable product packaging to conserve or eliminate, where possible, and anticipates a 1-million-pound reduction of single use plastics across its entire product portfolio in 2020.
The Gear4 Oxford Eco is a good example of a product that already incorporates recycled material. And InvisibleShield On-Demand (ISOD), ZAGG Brands’ in-store device protection service available in more than 2,500 retail locations globally, reduces product packaging by 97 per cent and allows retailers to cut and apply for mobile device protection on-demand in seconds. With such a dramatic reduction in product packaging materials, the ISOD service will continue to be a top priority for ZAGG Brands into the future.
ZAGG Brands is also promoting internal initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of the company such as converting the office parking lot to include solar panels.