CES: Global Consumer Electronics Sales to Top $1 Trillion

Smartphones and tables will see rapid growth but overall North American CE sales will be flat in 2012.
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Complete Coverage: CES 2012

In the opening press conference for the 2012 International CES, the Consumer Electronics Association predicted that global consumer electronics business would top $1 trillion in 2012 for the first time ever, according to new projections from the CEA and GfK Boutique Research.

Tablets and smartphones will see particularly strong growth, with the 96 million new tablets expected to be sold in 2012, notes Steve Bambridge, global business director at GfK.

Bambridge added that they just revised their tablet forecasts upwards and that actual sales could top 100 million units.

Overall global growth will come in at around 5%, but total North American consumer electronics sales will be flat in 2012, and most of the global growth will be driven by emerging markets and newer connected devices. Tablets and smartphones will see the biggest increases, while many traditional categories like TV set sales will be flat or down.

Many of these trends highlight the growing importance of multiplatform and TV Everywhere initiatives for programmers, broadcasters and multichannel operators. All of the fastest growing categories -- smartphones, tablets, internet connected TVs -- are connected devices that have been the focus of TV Everywhere efforts.

Responding a question about the potential impact of these connected devices, particularly connected TVs on cable and multichannel providers, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the for the Consumer Electronics Association, noted that "cable doesn't want to become just a dumb pipe," and that operators have been working to "provide value beyond just connectivity by pushing more [content] assets across devices-not just TV but all devices."

This week during CES, DuBravac also noted that Dish and Verizon, who will have press conferences or senior executives speaking during the conference, will be discussing solutions to make their content available throughout "the whole home across all of these devices."

Currently there are about 25 consumer electronics devices in the average American homes, DuBravac explained, with more to come. DuBravac expects about 20,000 new CE products to bow over the week at this year's CES.

Last year over 100 new tablets were shown at CES and DuBravac believes that about 50 to be demoed on the show floor this year.

One key trend at this year's show would be improved interfaces and simplified designs, DuBravac predicted.

Another will be the ongoing personalization of devices, with hardware, software and app ecosystems that allow users to adapt a smartphone or tablet to their particular needs.

Tablets and smartphones will also capture a growing portion of the overall CE spending, with tablets accounting for about 5% of total CE sales globally in 2012, up from 4% in 2011, and smartphones accounting for 22%, up from 18% in 2011.

Collectively, smartphones and features phones will account for 30% of all spending worldwide, making mobile one of the industry's largest categories.

"Tablets and smartphones are the two fastest growing categories in 2011 and 2012," noted Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the CEA.

In contrast, most of the other categories will slow down or decline in 2012, which will allow "tablets and mobile will claim more and more of the market," he noted.

After seeing a 38% increase in smartphone market in North America in 2011, the CEA is predicting 22% growth for smartphone market in North America.

Though the unit sales of TV will be flat, about 262 million worldwide in 2011, up by 1% over the 260 million units sold in 2011, LCDs will continue to see healthy growth.

The CEA is also predict a 56% bounce in connected TV sales in 2012, and very strong growth for 3D sets, which will see their volume jump by 122%.

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