Smart appliances cover a diverse range of products by both small and large companies. According to a report from In-Stat/ MDR, most segments have been affected by the economy and many smaller companies have been forced out of business or have been acquired by larger ones. However, there are still many small companies interested in smart appliances.
Smart appliances include two main categories: Internet-enabled consumer electronics and white-goods. Smart Internet-enabled consumer electronics include audio products, picture frames, analog Internet TV, and e-mail devices, while white-good segment is divided into major and portable appliances. Consumers remain confused about the value of smart appliances and whether they are worth the premium prices being demanded, and manufacturers remain concerned about applications, upgrade ability, standards, and subscription fee requirements. Internet and home networking penetration rates and price also affect the market for smart appliances.
There have been considerable product introductions in the Internet audio segment, which is expected to continue as manufacturers and consumers decide which applications are most desirable and prices decline. Products such as e-mail devices and Internet picture frames will be spurred on by continuing interest in complementary technology products and growing consumer awareness. These products have been primarily targeted to the North American market. However, this is beginning to change.