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Consumer Electronics Update: What’s Hot, What’s Not

| June 25, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


NEW YORK — This whole industry pretty-much sat-out the recession, and it continues to grow.   Updated Consumer Electronics Association projections peg the 2013 USA market at nearly $210 billion.  But business would be down without smartphones and tablets.

Big TVs are big too…but only because prices are still plummeting.  New features like 3D aren’t a factor.   And “the idea of watching ‘TV’ is changing,” according to CEA analysts, who connect the dots between tablet sales up and TV sales leveling off.  Say “TV” and young people think iPad.

What else is hot?  Headphones!  Now almost a-billion-dollar-a-year category, “consistent with the broader theme of mobility,” CEA experts observe.  We want what we want, where and when and on what device we want it.

Thus another buzzword we keep hearing: “connectivity.”  We’re buying gadgets – of all kinds – that connect to the internet.  Thus Blu-ray has flatlined.  It’s the highest-quality hardware for viewing hard-copy software.  But as we spend more time watching Hulu and Netflix and other streaming video, physical video disks seem to be going the way of audio CDs obsoleted by iTunes and other download depots.

What’s not hot?  Plasma TV’s.  9-out-of-10 digital TVs are LCD.  And video games, a market that continues to decline.  USA sales of gaming hardware & software were down 31% in May.

As a radio guy, I perked-up, only momentarily, when CEA analysts mentioned audio products: “Receivers are up significantly” year-to-date.  Lots of those receivers receive FM, some may still tune AM.  But, as with other hot CE products, “The big story is connectivity.”  Hardware sales affirm that, increasingly, listeners are channel surfing the internet.


Consultant Holland Cooke (@HollandCooke) covers the Consumer Electronics industry for TALKERS.  ICYMI, you can hear his reports from the CES2013 convention at (right column, scroll down).

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Category: Analysis