Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi and Apple are the four companies most likely to succeed in the consumer electronics sector, according to exclusive theme-based analysis.

GlobalData has scored the world’s top 49 consumer electronics companies on their competitive position in relation to the ten themes that matter most to their industry.

These 49 companies comprise manufacturers of computers, printers, connected devices, wearable technology, audiovisual products, point-of-sale equipment, consumer robots, and navigation devices.

The top ten themes disrupting the consumer electronics industry

The top themes disrupting the consumer electronics sector have been defined as the following (with the % weighting given to them in brackets):

  • Self-driving cars (20%)
  • Robotics (15%)
  • Internet TV (15%)
  • Automated home (15%)
  • Ecosystems (10%)
  • Virtual & Augmented reality (5%)
  • AI (5%)
  • Conversational platforms (5%)
  • Geopolitics (5%)
  • 3D Printing (5%)

Alphabet has been ranked as a leader in seven out of ten areas, meaning it is ideally positioned to perform well in the future. In second place was Amazon, followed by Xiaomi, with Apple fourth.

Top ten consumer electronics companies

The full top ten listing, with market capitalisation (as at December 2018) and company country of origin is:

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By GlobalData
  1. Alphabet ($710.7bn) – US
  2. Amazon ($778.4bn) – US
  3. Xiaomi ($38.7bn) – China
  4. Apple ($785.3bn) – US
  5. Microsoft ($814bn) – US
  6. Alibaba ($386.2bn) – China
  7. Sony ($65.4bn) – Japan
  8. iRobot ($2.4bn) – US
  9. Panasonic ($22.4bn) – Japan
  10. ($2.5bn) – US

The GlobalData Thematic Screen ranks companies within a sector on the basis of overall technology leadership in the ten themes that matter most to their industry, generating a leading indicator of future earnings growth.

The future of consumer electronics:  five predictions around disruptive industry themes:

 Autonomous vehicles

The industry is competing to launch fully autonomous services, primarily via geo-confined urban taxi services, with Google’s Waymo and GM planning to pilot such services in 2019. More than 40 companies worldwide are now developing the brains for self-driving vehicles. The cluster of technologies being developed to turn vehicles into intelligent, sentient robots include systems on chips, GPS, analytic sensors, wireless communications, and deep learning. 13 of the top 14 car makers and 12 of the largest tech companies are working to bring Level 4 fully autonomous vehicles to market between 2020 and 2025.

Leaders: Google Waymo, Aptiv, Bosch, GM, Intel/Mobileye, NVIDIA, Baidu, Aurora, Tesla

Automated Home

Smart speakers will increasingly operate as a hub for automated home technology. However, consumer scepticism around the overall utility of smart devices compared to more traditional alternatives (particularly given the cost disparity) and frustration caused by technical issues, especially around installation, will continue to hamper adoption.  GlobalData estimates that the worldwide installed base for smart speakers will hit 100 million in early 2019, before surpassing the 200 million mark during the following year.

Leaders: Amazon, Google, Samsung, Alibaba

Internet TV

The way in which TV content is accessed, stored and consumed has changed radically in recent years. Streaming and storage from the cloud has emerged as the future of the industry and rendered once-revolutionary equipment like digital video recorders (DVR) largely obsolete, while the TV set’s role in the home has been threatened by the prevalence of mobile devices. Subscription video on demand services such as Netflix have long allowed customers to view an unlimited amount of film and TV content over the Internet. Cable companies like Comcast have attempted to respond by developing cloud DVR offerings, but they will struggle to compete with the likes of Apple, which recently launched a new Apple TV+ subscription service, Roku, Amazon and Google.

Leaders: Amazon, Google, Netflix, Roku, Apple

Consumer robots

iRobot’s leadership in the domestic robots market will be increasingly threatened by the likes of Ecovacs Robotics, Panasonic, Samsung and Eufy. Social robots will continue to be a niche market with high price points holding back adoption. For example, Ubtech’s Lynx robot, which incorporates Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, retails for about $800, nearly five times the price of the Alex-powered Echo Plus smart speaker. The last year has seen some notable players, such as Mayfield Robotics, exit the market and there could be more to come. As well as being expensive, many social robots lack a clear and powerful use case, meaning they struggle to convince consumers that they are worth the expense.

Leaders: iRobot, SoftBank, Bosch, Honda, Toyota, Dyson, Ubtech Robotics

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) platforms immerse the user in a self-contained, entirely artificial world. VR can support several use cases ranging from sports to music, medicine, engineering, and education but will require affordable and easy to use devices for the mass market. Lower prices and new launches in 2019 are expected to encourage growth. In augmented reality (AR), where headsets allow the user to see the real world overlaid with a layer or layers of digital content, Magic Leap’s One and Microsoft’s HoloLens are expected to help drive adoption of AR devices over the next five years. However, despite the hype, Magic Leap’s One has failed to meet initial expectations in terms of the quality of experience. It will take years to create a model suitable for the general public.

Leaders: Facebook, Google, HTC, Nvidia, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Google

What is the GlobalData Thematic ScoreCard?

The GlobalData Thematic Research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors.

From Coca-Cola to Cisco; from Tesco to Thomson-Reuters, their awareness of or susceptibility to disruptive themes – from artificial intelligence to e-commerce or Big Data to Brexit – is what will make or break them.

The GlobalData Thematic ScoreCard is the methodology that not only tells savvy CEOs across every sector what themes they should be aware of, it then uniquely then tells them which suppliers they can trust to help them survive disruptive change. Its ‘Screen of Truth’ identifies not today’s incumbents, but tomorrow’s leaders and laggards.

Research methodology

Our thematic scores are based on our analysts’ assessment of their competitive position in relation to a theme, on a scale of 1 to 5:

  1. Vulnerable: The company’s activity with regards to this theme will be highly detrimental to its future performance.
  2. Follower: The company’s activity with regards to this theme will be detrimental to its future performance.
  3. Neutral: The company’s activity with regards to this theme will have a negligible impact on the company’s future performance, or this theme is not currently relevant for this company.
  4. Leader: The company is a market leader in this theme. The company’s activity with regards to this theme will improve its future performance.
  5. Dominant: The company is a dominant player in this theme. The company’s activity with regards to this theme will significantly improve its future performance.