As practically every retail store in central New Jersey has reminded me lately, the holidays are fast approaching.
After years of covering the retail industry, I am no longer shocked when Halloween candy takes over the sunscreen aisle at Walgreens in August, or when Christmas decorations suddenly appear on Target’s shelves in late September.
Fall is when the CE industry gets serious — about Q4 forecasts, holiday sales, International CES product introduction plans, Black Friday promotions — with barely a minute to spare for postseason baseball (no worries this year in my household of Phillies and Yankees fans).
It is no exception here at TWICE. In this issue, and almost every one that follows through CES in January, we will be dissecting the trends and announcements that drive the busy Q4 holiday selling season. It’s what we do.
So in this issue we start at a logical place, with the distributors whose main job is to curate the jumble of new products available for their retail clients. A well-chosen, properly targeted merchandise mix is the essential secret sauce to a successful holiday retail run, and I’m happy to report that the distributors we talked to are upbeat over the sheer breadth of emerging technology products available to Santa this year.
Check out our Special Report, a virtual roundtable with seven of the leading distributors in the CE space moderated by senior editor Alan Wolf. The expected (Ultra HD TV, wearables) and unexpected (AVRs, drones) are cited as direct paths to holiday profits. Let’s hope they are spot on.
Meantime, another emerging technology category, home automation, continues to gain traction as established CE suppliers and newcomers alike crowd the space with simpler and simpler DIY solutions, many of which are driven by apps and a smartphone or tablet. Senior editor Joseph Palenchar gives the lowdown on a series of recent announcements.
Complementing that report is an exclusive infographic by senior editor Lisa Johnston summarizing Icontrol’s “2014 State Of The Smart Home” report. It offers a succinct summation of consumer expectations and attitudes toward smart-home technology adoption.
All Cracked Up
So how many of you are walking around with a phone with a cracked screen or, God forbid, a bent iPhone 6? If not you, I bet you know someone who is. A side effect of the trend of phones with larger screens is the ease of which these phones can be dropped, dunked or deformed. According to warranty provider SquareTrade, about 15 percent of iPhone owners are currently using one with a cracked screen. On top of that, a whopping 71 percent(!) are not using a protective case. Perhaps the recent flurry over bendy iPhone 6s will raise consumer awareness of the problem and make it easier to add on protective-case and extended-warranty sales. However, some savvier retailers are taking advantage of turnkey in-store repair programs to drive traffic, as well as boost their bottom line. Senior editor Greg Tarr takes a look at the trend in a report.
As you can see on your right, you probably missed out on our Twitter giveaway with SMS Audio this month. But its not too late to get in on the action. More giveaways are in the works. All you have to do is follow us @TWICEOnline and watch for details.