Three Technology Trends to Watch: Auto DVRs, Phablets and Subscriptions

By Rob Enderle March 11, 2013

Well we are early into 2013 and already there are three interesting consumer trends to watch; automotive DVRs, phablets and subscription everything.   Let’s review each of these new trends.

How an Asteroid Changed the World

We became aware of the massive number of automotive DVRs in Russia when the Asteroid exploded earlier this month.   These cameras are used in Eastern Europe and across Asia largely as an offset to massive car insurance fraud that was running rampant. But folks have been taking the videos from these devices and posting them on YouTube (search on “Crazy Russian Drivers”) for some time and with the Asteroid news I expect we’ll now see more and more people get these things in the Western World if mostly so they can capture and share their own driving experiences. The DVRs and Cameras mount on the windshield and run when the car does, and if they feel a sharp shock or if the user hits a button they permanently record the last few minutes they have captured.   This video can then be extracted and shared over e-mail, YouTube, or with your insurance adjustor or court. 

I saw a number of products at CES that will be coming to market here in the next few weeks/months and I expect we’ll have our kids or parents finding some of our bad driving mistakes to share with us before long as a result.   You may want to drive as if you are on camera, because, increasingly that will be because you are.


Phablets are big smartphones with screens in the 5” + range and there were a lot of these at CES as well.   I’ve been watching what people are showing off on planes of late and it appears these bigger phones are a huge fad particularly with Asian buyers. This is kind of interesting because typically Asia was the place where miniaturized things were hot first and now it appears it has flipped and that market thinks, when it comes to smartphones bigger is better. From my own standpoint I’m carrying a phone with a 4”+ screen and a Kindle Fire with a 7” screen pretty much wherever I go and a phone with a 6” screen instead of both of the other devices would actually be better for me.    Whatever the case, phones are getting bigger and I expect, by this time next year, for many of us, telling where the smartphone ends and the tablet begins will be far more difficult.   

Subscription Everything

If you look out into the market right now with the changes going on it is becoming harder and harder to find packages software and media and subscriptions appear to be taking over.  The latest is Microsoft’s Office 365 Subscription which bundles their productivity software with their exchange e-mail service and provides it on a monthly subscription bases.   But OnLive has been doing this with games for some time, services like Rhapsody and Slacker with music, and Netflix with streaming and DVD movies.    It seems only a matter of time before someone starts connecting the dots and much like many of us are subscribing to our Internet, phone, and TV services through the same cable provider or all of our cell phone services from the same carrier (and some of us are getting a bundle of both from the same provider).  

In the end I think the industry is working toward a model where the services subsidize the hardware for PCs, Tablets, eBooks, cable, gaming, and phones (wired and wireless) and where all of this may increasingly come from the same provider. Currently, Kindles, set top boxes, gaming consoles, and smartphones are all subsidized many tied to a monthly subscription of some kind. It isn’t such a big gap to imagine a near term future where someone (likely your cable or telephony provider) decides to group the rest of your stuff into a single subscription which they negotiate with the provider and get at a discount.   

Wrapping Up:

DVRs watching our every move, smartphones that rival small tablets, and a fixed monthly charge for much of the technology we consume, means not only will more people be able to record what we do, more will be able to watch our mistakes on HD screens they carry, have at home, or in the office.   That is probably my number one reason for planning on moving to Belize, I like being on camera, just not all the time.      

Edited by Brooke Neuman

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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