STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The market for portable, battery-powered products has grown from a few well-established niches, such as flashlights and wristwatches, to a diverse, rapidly growing market that encompasses electronic computers, communications and entertainment products, a variety of cordless tools, and whole new classes of military and medical products. This diversity has been accomplished because of a unique synergy between the products themselves, the batteries they employ, and the battery charger and power-management systems that charge the batteries.
Several entirely new classes of batteries have been commercialized during the past 25 years, including nickel-metal hydride, lithium polymer, lithium-ion, lithium-polymer, rechargeable alkaline, and zinc-air designs. Meanwhile, improved microelectronic battery charger controller technology allows the commercialization of higher performance, smaller, and safer designs. This, in turn, has allowed the commercialization of portable products that would be impossible without improved battery chargers (notably portable computers, cellular telephones, and cordless hand tools). At the same time, competitively priced nonrechargeable primary batteries remain an established power source for many kinds of portable products.
As this synergy continues to develop, there are areas where the portable product, battery, and battery charger industry could experience the explosive growth usually associated with emerging industries. Battery designers (mainly electrochemists) and battery charger designers (mainly electrical and electronics specialists) will continue to operate together, with new batteries and new battery chargers evolving in tandem to produce even higher-performance products.
At the same time, competing portable power sources will be commercialized. Photovoltaics are already a niche market. Capacitive power storage is used in very specialized portable product applications. The most promising competing portable power sources are fuel cells. This report describes these competitors, assesses their potential, and discusses how they can also supplement portable product batteries.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
After spectacular growth, the portable battery-powered-product market is retrenching. Overall sales for some market sectors are level. Technical advances and a realignment of product, battery, and charger industry players must be matched by new marketing attitudes. On the other hand, battery designers and battery charger designers must continue to cooperate to meet more-demanding design requirements. With this in mind, this analysis is intended to be the most complete technical, economic, and business document of this type on battery-powered products and is designed to provide information of a professional nature. The technical data are dependent on the accuracy of the manufacturers and technical sources that helped to make up the BCC Research database. This report is not intended to constitute a legal or accounting document, nor is it an endorsement of any given product or process. The authors and BCC Research, as the publisher, assume no liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on this material.
SCOPE OF REPORT
First, this report organizes the portable product industry into the following market sectors:
- Communications and multi-functional handhelds
- Toys and novelties
Each portable product market sector is defined, leading companies for each sector are identified, and the market sectors are analyzed, including a 5-year market prediction. The following kinds of batteries are then discussed:
- Nickel-cadmium (nicad)
- Nickel-metal hydride
- Lithium batteries (including lithium-ion and lithium-polymer)
- Specialty rechargeable batteries (including lead-acid, rechargeable alkaline, nickel-zinc, silver-zinc, and silver-cadmium)
- Zinc-carbon primary batteries
- Non-rechargeable manganese zinc alkaline
- Non-rechargeable lithium
- Specialty non-rechargeable (including zinc-air, silver oxide, and magnesium)
These battery power sources are also compared to two new portable power supplies — ultracapacitors and fuel cells. Again, each battery market sector is defined, leading companies are identified, and the market is analyzed, including a 5-year market prediction. Finally, original equipment markets (OEM) and charging-station battery charger markets are analyzed. Portable product, battery, and battery charger companies are identified and profiled.
Throughout the report, past market data are expressed in current dollars, and estimates and predictions are in constant 2008 dollars. Wholesale markets for 2007 and predictions for 2008 and 2013 are provided. Most market summaries are based on a consensus scenario that assumes no unanticipated technical advances and no unexpected legislation. Totals are rounded to the nearest million dollars.
This report is intended to provide a unique analysis of the global portable battery-powered-product market and will be of interest to manufacturers of battery chargers and battery charger components, as well as a variety of portable product makers. This report will also be valuable to those involved in secondary battery development and marketing, as well as those offering competing nonrechargeable batteries. Nonbattery power source makers, such as fuel-cell and ultracapacitor makers, can use this report to assess the ultimate size of their target market. Current and potential battery consumers, as well as those in the military and the medical professions, can determine existing or potential portable product, battery, or battery charger markets. These end users will learn what designs battery systems will and will not allow. BCC wishes to thank those companies, government agencies, and university researchers who contributed information for this report.
This report is based on literature reviews, patent examinations, and discussions with commercial and government sources. Market assumptions used in this report include those based on updates of material from an earlier version of this analysis, as well as from the BCC Research study Lithium Batteries: Markets and Materials. This report’s author prepared these studies as well. Although many segments of the industry are well documented, much of this information is based on estimates, not hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and wherever possible, sources are identified.
When appropriate, information from previously published sources is identified to allow a more detailed examination by clients.
This report’s project analyst, Donald Saxman, is the editor of BCC Research’s Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Progress and Fuel Cell Industry Report newsletters, and has founded several other BCC newsletters. Saxman has over 25 years of experience in market analysis, technical writing, and newsletter editing. Since 1983, he has operated as a technical market consultant and subcontractor to BCC Research, and in this capacity, he has prepared over 75 Technology Market Research Reports, including many that covered battery technology and battery markets. His previous experience includes supervision of a quality-control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, experience as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, product assurance manager for a space station life support system project, and an information technology business analyst and project manager.