CES 2020: Sunday 5 January

Headlines from the Las Vegas tech playground

Today’s Daily Insight provides the first of several updates from CES 2020.

CES is the largest annual consumer electronics show, with an estimated 175,000 attendees expected to visit the more than 4,500 exhibitors set to showcase over 20,000 new products.

In the short video below, our analysts on the ground — Ben Wood, Geoff Blaber and Leo Gebbie — reveal their initial expectations for the big news to come from the event.

For further thoughts about what will be hot topics, see Expectations for CES 2020.

CES Unveiled

Our team also attended CES Unveiled, the first major event at CES, where 180 companies previewed the top products they plan to release. Although there were few announcements of significance, one gadget that caught our eye was a new smartwatch from Finnish company Suunto.

Suunto unveils Wear OS-powered Suunto 7 smartwatch

Suunto, a company best-known for its high-end multisport watches, has unveiled the Suunto 7. The device will go on sale at the end of January and will cost $499.

The Suunto 7 is notable as it uses Google’s Wear OS. This is a first for Suunto, which has historically developed smartwatches based on its own proprietary operating system. The new device is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform and it’s the first smartwatch to fully take advantage of the platform. It uses a smaller co-processor in the chipset’s architecture to allow continuous sports tracking with GPS enabled for up to 12 hours; the main processor is powerful enough to support Wear OS use for up to 48 hours.

Suunto and rivals including Garmin and Polar have traditionally stuck to their own software to optimize performance when focussing on sports-centric features, often producing devices that are excellent for activity tracking but limited in terms of day-to-day smartwatch features like contactless payments, integration with social networks and support for other apps.

By building a watch powered by Wear OS and Snapdragon Wear 3100, Suunto is aiming to provide a “best of both worlds” experience for customers looking for a sports-orientated device with a battery that truly lasts all day. This could help Suunto mount a stronger challenge to Garmin, which has dominated the sports-watch niche in recent times, and could help breathe new life into the Wear OS ecosystem, providing a more attractive experience on the platform.

Other big stories

Other highlights from this pre-show event included brain-computer interfaces, health-tracking wearables and pet tech, captured in the following tweets from our analysts in Las Vegas:

Finally, ahead of CES 2020, Samsung announced that it has shipped 6.7 million 5G-ready smartphones. The company has made a bold early commitment to 5G on several fronts spanning standardization, infrastructure, handsets and chipsets and it’s evident that this end-to-end capability has enabled it to forge a strong position. Its Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Note 10+ 5G have spearheaded its efforts in 5G smartphones and have recently been joined by the more mass-market Galaxy A90 5G and Galaxy Fold 5G.

CCS Insight believes that as many as three quarters of these shipments were in South Korea, as almost 4 million people had signed up to 5G at the end of October 2019, according to the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT. This number was expected to rise to 5 million by the end of 2019. Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy Tab S6 5G tablet for South Korea underlines the importance of this market, because of the strength of early demand for 5G and because it acts as test bed to understand usage patterns, adoption, operator tariffs, positioning and uses for 5G.

Nonetheless, Samsung faces a sizeable jump in competition, as all Android manufacturers work to extend their 5G portfolios, Qualcomm and MediaTek launch more chipsets for the mass market in 2020 and as Apple prepares to join the 5G party in September 2020.

Follow @CCS Insight on Twitter for all the latest updates from the show, and @BenWood, @GeoffBlaber and @LeoGebbie to see the products that have caught the attention of our analysts at the show.