Now that the first few days of the show are in the books, I wanted to take a look back at some of the major themes from the event. These are themes that would and should impact most of the presentors at the event. Some of the them are positive, some less so. Read on for our take on this multi-day event!
5 themes from IFA 2017
- Motorola might have too many phones
Moto has already launched this year the Moto E, Moto G and G Plus, as well as their flagship Moto Z2 Play and Force devices ( the Moto Z2 Play we reviewed and really liked) so one would think that’s it for the year from them. But one would be wrong because the new Moto X4 was announced and I think most people in tech were left wondering “why?” The new Moto X phone has some nice top end comps like IP68 and a dual camera setup, and then has some mid tier specs like a Snapdragon 630 processor and only 32/3 storage options in the US. This device is a real head scratcher but at $400 it’s not going to break the bank. I just don’t know why Moto needed to make it. It’s pretty identical to the Moto G and similarly priced. Perhaps they would sell more phones off the concentrated on making 1 or 2 great ones instead of 5-6 mediocre ones. Just a thought.
- AI powered speakers are the next “it” thing
Ever since the launch of the Google Home to compete with the Amazon Echo line of products, you knew this was coming. By that I mean that everyone and their dog was going to pump out “smart” connected home speakers, and Apple was the first to oblige with the announcement of the HomePod (even though its not out just yet) – but IFA this year bought a whole bunch of friends to this party, including JBL, Anker, Panasonic, and Sony. While the primary function might at first blush seem to be just playing music, clearly the trend with making these speakers AI assistant compatible is to allow more and more features to come in the not-so-distant future. Several of the companies are already talking about the complete integration of these speakers into an integrated smart phone, where you can ask the Google Assistant (as an example, but this would work with Alexa as well mind you) to check the temperature in the fridge or see if the laundry is done. And that’s already in addition to the smart home integration that’s already there, like turning on and off lights and checking connected front door cameras. Prior to IFA 2017, we had pretty much 2 such devices, with another one on the way from Apple. After IFA 2017, we’ve got at least 5 more of these product, with more certainly on the way. This looks like a trend that won’t slow down any time soon.
- Drones are still a big deal for a lot of people/industries
DJI introduced 2 new upgraded versions of their popular drone lines: the Mavic Pro gets a new Platinum edition, and the Phantom line gets the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian. Now with names like “Platinum” and “Obsidian” you’re immediately thinking – these things must be pretty cool, right? Well, of course they are. The Mavic Pro Platinum now has a flight time of half an hour and is 60% quieter than it was previously. The Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian is the same model as before, with a “matte black all the things” paint job and a new magnesium camera gimbal that’s also electroplated. The Mavic starts around $1100 and the Phantom starts at $1500. DJI is pretty much the ONLY name in drones, and the fact that DJI can make such incremental upgrades to two of their models and believe that they can find continued success speaks volumes to their business model. Both the civilian and pro models are very popular for a wide variety of uses; cinematography, remote equipment inspections, and even military applications. It’s a wild world we live in when both AI and drones can be two of the most aggressive growth areas technology.
- Sony didn’t get the memo on 2017 phone design
Sony has announced their new XZ1 and XZ1 Compact and while the phones might be solid overall (despite not likely making it to US shores) Sony has continued this year to produce phones with a design that could easily have been found in phones from 3 years ago. The current trend with most OEMs including Samsung, LG, and presumably Apple, Google, and Huawei is to have phones with large beautiful displays and very minimal top, bottom, and side bezels. Sony basically said “nah” and brought out their new phones looking just like the last phones. This isn’t inherently a bad thing and if price was their differentiator, that would be an okay decision. But these phones will likely be in the range of some of these other more modern looking devices and so I wonder how well Sony will fare in the 2nd half of this year by bucking the trend.
- LGs V30 stole the show
It’s rare to see unanimous praise from the tech industry for a single product. Even a device like the Pixel which was hailed as huge success in its initial launch had some detractors. But that’s not been the case with the V30 so far. EVERY single first look at the phone from all the major tech sites and popular YouTubers has raved about the build quality, display, features and specs, as well as the camera (which is one of the things that LG has highlighted as well. Early indications are that this device will come in somewhere around the $750 price point too, which is very reasonable considering what you’re getting for your money. As a reference point, the Essential phone recently launched is $699 and lacks IP68, SD card support, a headphone jack, and a solid performing camera. Okay, so maybe I just threw that last part in there as a dig, but the rest is on point. I think that LG really could have a hit on their hands here, especially if they can get it shipped and into consumers hands sooner rather than later. Sounds like a Sept 21st launch in Korea, with the global launch after that. Since the newest iPhones, Note, and Pixels all will launch within about 30 days of that date, LG has to do what they can to beat out the competition, or they’ll end up like HTC with the U11 – having a great product that no one ever buys.