Tablets are Fastest-Growing Product Category in History of CE Industry

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The consumer electronics (CE) industry will see stronger than anticipated growth in 2012, according to the semi-annual industry forecast released recently by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The overall CE industry will grow an estimated 5.9% in the U.S. this year, two points higher than previously projected in January.

"The U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts," (July 2012) projects that industry sales will surpass $206 billion this year, the first time yearly industry revenues in the U.S. are expected to top the $200 billion mark. Sales growth is projected to continue into 2013, when industry revenues will likely grow 4.5%, reaching $215.8 billion.

The CE industry is offering what consumers want during these uncertain economic times: innovation and value,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “Consumers’ desire for connected devices is pushing projected revenues higher than originally anticipated, but the long-term health of our industry relies on a strong and growing U.S. economy.”

Sales of mobile connected devices, led by tablets, have pushed overall industry revenues to record highs:

  • Tablets are expected to reach $29.1 billion in shipment revenues this year, $10.8 billion more than forecasted in January, representing 83% sales growth year-over-year. Unit sales are expected to reach 68.5 million.
  • Smartphone sales will also see continued growth this year and will remain the primary revenue driver for the industry. Shipment revenues for smartphones are expected to reach $33.7 billion in 2012, with more than 108 million units shipping to dealers, up 24% from 2011.
  • Laptop sales continue to increase as consumers demand mobility in computing solutions. Led by the introduction of ultrabooks, overall laptop sales to dealers are expected to reach $14.9 billion, with 21.3 million laptops shipping to dealers.

Tablets are the fastest-growing product category in the history of the CE industry, and sales will continue to increase as more products hit the market, offering consumers more choices in size, price, operating systems and app ecosystems,” said Steve Koenig, CEA’s director of industry analysis. “With U.S. household penetration of smartphones surpassing the 50% threshold, we’re seeing slowing sales of dedicated devices, as consumers seek singular devices that can perform multiple functions. We expect this trend to continue into 2013.”

Sales of innovative digital displays continue to increase despite an ongoing decline in overall TV sales, and remain critical to the industry’s bottom line.

  • Unit sales of networked-enabled TVs are projected to surpass 10 million, growing 56% in 2012. Shipment revenues will reach $9 billion, up 20% year-over year.
  • Sales of 3D-enabled displays are also growing. Unit sales in 2012 are expected to reach 5.6 million, up 104% year-over-year. Shipment revenues will jump 75%, to more than $7 billion.
[Source:  "The U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts."  Consumer Electronics Association.  24 July 2012.  Web.  27 July 2012.]