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Thursday, March 10, 2011

From Smartphones to Smart Robots

Despite economic crisis the global market for personal computing devices that enable users to access the web and exchange voice, image and text with family and friends is growing fast, while the market for consumer robots, that free users from dirty and dull home tasks, is growing very slowly. Who´s to blame?
2.8 Billion Smartphones 2015
According to a new research report by Swedish Berg Insight, global shipments of smartphones increased 74 percent in 2010 to 295 million units. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.4 percent, shipments are forecasted to reach 1,200 million units in 2015. The global user base of smartphones increased at the same time by 38 percent year-on-year to an estimated 470 million active users in 2010. In the next five years, the global user base of smartphones is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.9 percent to reach 2.8 billion in 2015.
Smartphones are receiving more attention from handset manufacturers, network operators and application developers. Most importantly, an increasing number of users are now discovering how smartphones can act as a substitute for PC, camera, music player, phone, game console, chat machine, calculator, brain booster.
12-15 Million Domestic Robots 2015
Domestic robots entered the market ten years ago but might have to go a long way before they can attract consumers and investors compared with hot smartphones. (See stock chart below)
According to the Service Robot 2010 report by International Federation of Robotics, IFR, global sales of domestic robots increased only 2 percent in 2009 to 1,6 million. IFR estimates sales to reach 11,4 million units for 2010-2013. The global user bas of domestic robots increased 2009 to 8,6 million units, of that 5,5 million robots for domestic tasks and 3 million entertainment robots. iRobot, the global leader in domestic robotics, has sold about 6 million domestic robots since 2002. So far only 1% of the 500 million households worldwide have invested in robotic home help. Price and performance of cleaning robots are still not good enough to threaten traditional cleaning technologies or low-paid human workforce. Consumers are much more attracted of ego-boosting platforms for communication and fun than of  robotic home cleaners illustrated by the stock graph below.
5 Year Stock Growth Comparison Apple (blue), iRobot (red): Apple + 431%, iRobot 4,3%
Google Finance March 9, 2011

Apple Post-PC Blockbuster Sales:
2001-2010: 220+ Million iPods
2007-2011: 100 Million iPhones
2010: 15 million iPads in (9 month), $ 9.5 billion 
Apple Store: 
200 million accounts with CC+1 click purchase
iTunes: more than 10 billion tracks downloaded
Book Store: 100 million books downloaded
App Store: 350.000 apps, $2 billion to developers
Apple has succeeded to lead the digital music
revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices. Apple has shown high growth potential for innovative, user-friendly solutions below the $500 mark. Market Intelligence iSuppli predicted in July 2010 Apple will ship 100 million iPads 2010-2012.
100 million household robots year 20xx?
If domestic robotics wants to gain acceptance as an attractive and useful technology for millions of households domestic robotics players might to rethink and change their strategies. They might need to develop innovative user-centric, reliable and safe solutions that focus on health, quality of life and green household management, based on disruptive technologies that can fit into new socio-economical and techno-ecological structures. The need for smart home automation and household management will increase in the coming decades driven by an older population, more single households and shortage of workforce. The window of opportunity is still open for robot entrepreneurs and creative teams.

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