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Are Apple and the iPad Falling Behind Competitors in User Interface Technologies?

Austin, TX  – March 13, 2011 – The release of the new iPad brought a number of incremental upgrades but also raised interesting questions, as Apple’s competitors aggressively incorporate a number of advanced user interface technologies at a faster pace. IMS Research believes Apple will need to embrace embedded vision-based technologies in its next product releases in order for the company to maintain its competitive edge.

Though Apple is largely credited with bringing touchscreen interaction to the masses thanks to the iPhone, other user interface technologies to complement touch interfaces will become increasingly important. Competitors such as Samsung and Microsoft have steadily begun integrating these technologies in recent releases and several more have products slated for debut in the next year, as competitive differentiators to employ against Apple. These technologies will also become commonplace in the years to come. According to the IMS Research report, “Next Gen User Interfaces: Touch, Gesture, Motion, and Voice – 2012 Edition,” yearly worldwide shipments of devices with next generation user interface technologies are forecast to grow to nearly 3.8 billion units in 2015.

The new iPad was absent Apple’s now-trademark Siri voice assistant, which debuted with the iPhone 4S and was widely expected to be integrated with the new iPad. Regardless of Apple’s reasons, voice control and assistance is very much a part of Google and Microsoft’s strategies going forward, with Google expected to debut Google Assistant in 2012 and Microsoft continuing to develop and expand its TellMe speech technologies across Windows 8, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone platforms.

Beyond voice recognition and control, however, Apple’s competitors are also more aggressively deploying camera-based gesture recognition applications. Microsoft has already shown its commitment to gesture control with the Xbox 360 and upcoming Windows 8 platforms, along with gesture-friendly common interfaces across devices. Windows 8-based laptops and tablets incorporating gesture control with either standard or enhanced front-facing cameras are debuting this year. Android-based smartphones and tablets incorporating gesture control will debut in volume in late 2012. In the home video arena, where Apple has significant aspirations, Samsung is only the first of several major consumer electronics companies to debut camera-based gesture recognition this year in its Smart TVs.

Vision-based applications are thus expected to be a competitive differentiator going forward. Microsoft has already begun utilizing facial recognition with the Kinect for Xbox 360, and Google also has launched facial recognition in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Though these are rudimentary implementations, they are only the start for these two competitors. Applications beyond facial recognition are steadily being refined for deployment over the next year.

With aggressive upgrades in processor power in each product generation, Apple seems well-positioned for this battle. According to Jeff Bier, Founder of the Embedded Vision Alliance (www.Embedded-Vision.com).  “Vision algorithms require powerful processors.  By boosting CPU and GPU performance in the new iPad, Apple is enabling developers to potentially deploy exciting new embedded vision capabilities, such as gesture recognition, augmented reality, and health monitoring. Embedded vision technology enables consumer electronics products to be much more intelligent and responsive, and will be an important competitive differentiator.”

According to Paul Erickson, senior analyst at IMS Research, “Next generation user interface technologies continue to evolve, and 2012 will see a number of advancements from Apple’s competitors in the areas of user experience, voice control and embedded vision, particularly gesture recognition. As the new iPad did not introduce any significant new progress in this regard, the competitive pressure now falls upon Apple, perhaps beginning with the upcoming iPhone 5 launch, to bring iOS devices into competitive parity with some very aggressive competition.”

For more information please contact:

IMS Research
Paul Erickson – Senior Analyst
T: +1 512 302 1977
Paul.Erickson@imsresearch.com

Alternative Contacts:

Europe

Ann Ruff
Ann.Ruff@imsresearch.com
Tel: +44 1933 402 255

US

Stacy Hackenberg
Stacy.Hackenberg@imsresearch.com
Tel: +1 512 302 1977

Asia Pacific

Yvonne Zhang
yvonne.zhang@imsresearch.com
Tel: +86 21 6720 1823

About the Next Gen User Interfaces: Touch, Gesture, Motion, and Voice report

The study “Next Gen User Interfaces: Touch, Gesture, Motion, and Voice – 2012 Edition” offers a current analysis of the technologies transforming the human-machine-computer interface. It provides a concise explanation of touch, gesture, motion and voice control advances as well as a concise cost/benefit analysis and tradeoffs of each. Key markets
such as factory automation, automotive, security, mobile tech, education, digital signage and consumer electronics are discussed, along with barriers to entry for each technology. Estimates for opportunity in terms of total device shipments, as well as shipments and revenues for next gen UI technologies, are provided through 2015.

About IMS Research

IMS Research is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry, offering syndicated market studies, bespoke research and consultancy services. Clients include most of the household names in the industry. IMS Research has offices in Europe, the US, China, Taiwan and South Korea. To find out more, contact IMS Research: enquiries@imsresearch.com; T: +44 (0) 1933 402255; http://imsresearch.com

About the Embedded Vision Alliance

Founded in 2011 and led by BDTI (www.BDTI.com), the Embedded Vision Alliance (www.embedded-vision.com) represents an industry collaboration to transform the electronics industry with products that are more intelligent and aware of their environments.  It is a membership-based entity dedicated to inspiring and empowering embedded system designers and application developers to use embedded vision technology.  A key means of achieving this is providing engineers and developers with the practical information that they need in order to effectively incorporate embedded vision technology in their designs.