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 computing, communications, entertainment, photographic, and publishing products; a variety of cordless tools; and entirely 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 chargers and power-management systems that recharge the batteries.
Several entirely new classes of batteries have been commercialized during the past 25 years, including nickel-metal hydride, zinc-air, lithium polymer, and the widely used lithium-ion design. Meanwhile, improved microelectronic battery charger controller technology allows the commercialization of higher-performance, smaller, and safer designs. This, in turn, has allowed for the commercialization of portable products that would be impossible without improved battery chargers, notably portable computers, cell phones, digital cameras, multi-functional touch-screen devices, and cordless hand tools. At the same time, competitively priced no rechargeable primary batteries remain established power sources for many kinds of portable products.
As this synergy continues to develop, there are areas in which the portable product, battery, and battery charger industries 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.
This has changed how portable product batteries are marketed. All batteries degrade and must be replaced, usually much sooner than the products they power. In the past, this was addressed by using removable and replaceable batteries that could be interchanged between different devices, or through an aftermarket for the replacement of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) batteries. Portable product designers now recognize the long-term value stream represented by the batteries, and they jealously guard their control of this stream by designing batteries devices that can only be powered by batteries that they sell. This has created a whole new supply chain category that has elements of both the OEM stream and the aftermarket.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
After spectacular growth, the portable battery-powered product market is retrenching. Overall sales for some market sectors are level. In other cases, whole new classes of products are proliferating at the expense of once popular lines. Technical advances and a realignment of product, battery, and charger industry players must be matched by new marketing attitudes. Alternately, 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 upon the accuracy of the manufacturers and technical sources that helped to make up the BCC Research database.
SCOPE OF REPORT
This report organizes the portable product industry into the following market sectors:
- Entertainment and publishing
- Toys and novelties
This classifications structure recognizes the tremendous popularity of convergent multi-functional handheld devices that can combine cellular phones, Web browsers, computers, entertainment and publishing platforms, timepieces, and navigation aids.
Each portable product market sector is defined, the leading companies for each sector are identified, and the market sectors are analyzed, with the inclusion of a 5-year market prediction. The following kinds of batteries are discussed:
- Nickel-cadmium (NICAD)
- Nickel-metal hydride
- Lithium (e.g., lithium-ion, lithium-polymer)
- Specialty rechargeable (e.g., lead-acid, nickel-zinc, silver-zinc, silver-cadmium)
- Zinc-carbon primary
- Manganese zinc alkaline
- Non-rechargeable lithium
- Specialty non-rechargeable (e.g., zinc-air, silver oxide, 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, the leading companies are identified, and the market is analyzed, with the inclusion of a 5-year market prediction. Finally, OEM and charging-station battery charger markets are analyzed.
Portable product, battery, and battery charger companies are identified and profiled.
This report, which is intended to provide a unique analysis of the global portable battery-powered product market, will be of interest to manufacturers of battery chargers and battery charger components, as well as a variety of portable product makers. It 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 markets. 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 which designs their battery systems will and will not allow. BCC wishes to thank those companies, government agencies, and university researchers who contributed information for this report.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this report, which is based on interviews with commercial and government sources, literature reviews, and patent examinations. An in-depth analysis of technical and business literature and published dissertations; a review of the history of the technologies involved; and interviews with industry experts, company representatives, federal government researchers, and university scientists provides an assessment of the outlook for alternative electrical power storage. Other information sources include product literature from suppliers, scientific references, conferences, and patent searches.
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 rather than hard facts. The distinction between these estimates and hard facts can be vital, and sources are identified wherever possible. When appropriate, information from previously published sources is identified to allow for a more detailed examination.
Donald Saxman is the editor of BCC Research’s Fuel Cell Industry Report and Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Progress newsletters and has founded several other BCC newsletters. Mr. Saxman has more than 28 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 more than 80 technology market research reports, including many covering battery technology and battery markets. His previous experience includes maintaining supervision of a quality-control laboratory at a major secondary lead refinery, serving as an analytical chemist at a hazardous waste testing service, holding the position of product assurance manager for a space station life-support system project, and serving as an information technology business analyst and project manager.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.