Power Electronics

Consumer Appliance Industry Offsets Technology Commoditization

A booming appliances industry, rising disposable incomes in high-potential Asian regions and the increasing penetration of multi-functional equipment are driving the adoption of rechargeable batteries in consumer product applications.

Mature technologies and increasing commoditization are however challenging vendors to distinguish their products from that of competitors. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan “World Rechargeable Battery for Consumer Product Application” reveals that this market totaled revenues worth $467.3 million in 2002 and is poised to expand to $679.3 million by 2009.

"Given the lack of distinctive features, manufacturers are being forced to shift from technology competition to price competition as they are faced with the issue of making their products stand out," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Sara Bradford.

Problems in aligning product prices with competitors and the rapid increase of less expensive Asian counterparts in the global market are compounding vendors' woes.

Maintaining close relationships with customers and increasing their awareness of the drawbacks of adopting inferior, albeit cheaper imports may prove to be the only way to sustain future growth. A windfall of future opportunities stems from the rapidly growing segments, which include portable garden and power tools, portable audio-video devices and other consumer appliances such as electric shavers, toothbrushes and toys.

"With the increasing popularity of sophisticated, multifunctional devices, the responsibility is on battery vendors to keep pace with emerging power requirements and provide batteries that do this within a smaller footprint," says Bradford.

Price reductions in various battery technologies have also resulted in many device manufacturers moving away from the conventional nickel cadmium battery chemistry to lighter, more durable nickel metal-hydride and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries technologies.

Manufacturers are currently researching ways to make a Li-ion battery with a phosphate-based cathode and even an improved Li-ion polymer battery. Weighing less than the conventional ones, these batteries when mass-produced are anticipated to be extremely cost effective.

For more information, visit www.power.frost.com.

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