As we approach the end of 2015 a number of products jump out as being far better than we’d anticipated they’d be. It is kind of an eclectic mix of very different offerings that not only surprised us but surprised the market. They were so good they provided bragging rights to the folks who picked them up.
Let’s talk about the top products of 2015.
This product blew the doors off of Amazon this year. Who would have thought that what was initially mostly an iPod for your living room with a Siri clone could be as good at Echo was? But a combination of great sound, decent music service support and extensions into everything from timers to shopping lists is quite the hit for less than $200. Women particularly liked this thing, and women generally aren’t your top buyers for tech gadgets but the Echo often made it to the top of their lists. Setting sales records for Amazon, the Echo kicked butt in 2015.
As I write this, the BlackBerry PRIV has sold out most places and folks chased this phone until there were no more to be purchased. This combined the stuff people used to love about BlackBerry—in terms of security and a keyboard—with all of the apps on the Android store, it even has access to the Amazon app store giving it a larger selection than most Android users seem to have. That is flipping the app shortfall they used to have with their BB10 phone on its head, and the PRIV has become my personal favorite phone—so I can attest to just how wonderful it is. Who would have thought that in 2015 BlackBerry would have a hit phone? Yet that’s exactly what they have.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Often listed as the best there is in the market with regard to portable PC class technology even though it took four tries to get it right, currently the Surface 4 is the favorite product for people who travel heavy and live off their laptop. It kicked off a bit of a war with the PC OEMs, each of which is working furiously to bring out a better competitor in 2016. But for now, when it comes to a laptop-like product the Microsoft Surface 4, which has a touchpad (sorry Apple) is the best product in its class. And it kind of kicked the iPad Pro’s butt, by a lot.
Who would have thought that anyone could create a luxury sedan that regularly kicks the butts of not only performance cars but true exotics. Granted, this is in a straight line and not on a road course but this car will easily beat cars in a straight line—particularly from 0-30—that cost up to 10x as much and it is a big, really big sedan. Amazingly, it will typically do better on snow and ice than many 4x4s and with its two trunks it will hold more virtually every car in its class. It does all of this running on electricity. This car is so good it actually beat Consumer Reports testing process and several of their testing machines. Simply an amazing car and the most successful electric car in its class, granted pretty much the only electric car in its class.
This is the Smartwatch that surprised everyone including Apple. It actually looks like a luxury watch and the only thing that seems to hold it back is its name. Working with both iOS and Android this is mostly what a Smartwatch should be, a great looking watch that does a few other things very well. I think Huawei gets what even Apple doesn’t, and that is for a product called a “Smartwatch” you need to focus on being a great watch first not a great iPod with a wrist strap. That would rightfully be called an iPod Wrist or something similar. Huawei got everything right but the brand (this would have sold so much better with a Watch brand). Nobody thought Huawei would get the Smartwatch right first, most were betting on Apple. Surprise.
If we went back a decade and argued an electric car would be the best car in the world, Huawei (a brand no one knew) would get a new device right before Apple, Blackberry would have a hit Android phone, Amazon a better iPod like device, or Microsoft a hit PC folks would have laughed you out of the room. But a lot of folks aren’t laughing now, and I think this is just the beginning. 2016 promises to be even more disruptive. I can hardly wait.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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