If your product isn’t waterproof in 2018, you’re falling behind

Posted on November 27th, 2017 by

Since the dawn of portable electronics, the feature of water protection has typically been a novelty or simply reserved for niche markets. Fast forward to 2017 and the landscape has definitely changed.

Take for example, mobile phones. As the iPhone and Android devices began to rise in popularity in the past decade, none of the flagship devices from Apple, Samsung, LG or others touted significant protection from water damage. That is until Sony introduced the Xperia Z in 2013 that promised robust liquid protection (IP55 and IP57 ingress protection). This began the modern ‘arms race’ for  flagship phones andwaterproof protection.

It should be noted that the Xperia Z wasn’t the first time Sony had released waterproof electronics. In fact the Japanese company released a ‘candy bar’ style waterproof phone in 2006 along with other companies including Casio and Fujitsu. The difference is that this phone and many others were released mainly in Japan or other niche locations and markets where waterproof electronics were especially requested.

Shortly after the Xperia Z was launched, Samsung answered with their own waterproof flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy S5 in 2014. Similar to Sony, this IP67 rated device was not Samsung’s first attempt at water protection. In fact, the year prior the company released the niche Samsung S4 Active that promised IP67 protection, with the phone being marketed to the rugged and industrial sectors.

Can you see the pattern? Waterproof phones have slowly been developing in the background before they become mainstream and permeate throughout a product line. Once these and other flagship devices adopt an IP rating, other phones have had to adapt quickly or risk being left behind.

The iPhone 7 in 2016 was the first iPhone to promise any sort of water protection, though critics have wanted it for years. Apple released the first iPhone in a time when water resistant phones were a large minority and not a priority. They were able to hold off for ten product cycles before adopting water protection, though the delay didn’t go unnoticed.

The companies entering the phone scene today aren’t as lucky. They know the days of water vulnerability have past. It only took Google a year to release an IP rated Pixel phone. It could even be argued that the Essential Phone has had a lackluster adoption rate this year due to the lack of water protection, which Wired editor, David Pierce considered “…an absolutely necessary feature on a great phone these days.

This pattern of waterproof adoption is found throughout the consumer electronics industry and other markets as well. For example, after ten years, Amazon released it’s first Kindle with IPX8 water protection. Although behind companies like Kobo and tolino, this adoption further closes the gap on the amount of eReaders with water protection on the market.

Where does your product stand? Have you adopted water protection into your product strategy? Have your competitors? No matter the product category, if you haven’t yet, we highly recommend you do. As many companies continue to adopt and evolve their levels of protection, we see 2018 being the most waterproof yet.

Contact us at HZO to see how we can protect your next product to ensure you’re riding the wave and not washed away (sorry, we couldn’t resist :).

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