As the world’s biggest show of high-tech gadgetry gets under way this week in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is forecasting an end to the boom years of double-digit sales growth.
The CEA, which has brought some 2,700 exhibitors to the glitzy Las Vegas strip for the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opening today, said consumer electronics sales were expected to hit US$724 billion this year.
That’s up 4.3 percent from the US$694 billion last year but a steep drop from the 13.7 percent growth posted last year and the double-digit growth rates of previous years.
While the CEA forecast that sales of consumer electronics would slow this year because of the global economic downturn, it said they would “still outperform most other sectors.”
The slowdown this year is expected to affect products virtually across the board, from mobile phones to TVs to computers.
Mobile phones accounted for 26.7 percent of total revenue last year, but sales are expected to slow this year, the CEA forecast, growing by just 2.1 percent this year over last year to 1.2 billion units.
Mobile phone sales grew by 13 percent last year and by 15.4 percent in 2007.
The CEA said that although mobile phone growth was expected to slow, “the macro trend of ‘work, play and communicate anywhere, anytime’ will continue to drive innovation and CE [consumer electronics] sales.”
Television sales are expected to grow by 2.6 percent this year to 232 million units, down from the 10.5 percent and 9.1 percent growth rates of the previous two years.
“Liquid-crystal displays will grow slower in 2009 but will still achieve double-digit unit and revenue growth worldwide,” the CEA said. “Plasma displays are forecast to achieve positive unit growth and negative revenue growth.”
The CEA’s outlook for computer sales this year is somewhat better, with growth forecast at 8.2 percent over last year but still a significant drop from the 17.8 percent growth of last year over the previous year.
One bright spot is laptops.
“Laptop PCs are expected to continue to generate double-digit increases in units and revenue in 2009,” the CEA said. “Desktops will experience declines in both units and revenue.”
The ratio of laptop PC sales to desktop PC sales is expected to continue to widen this year with 63 percent of the computers sold this year expected to be laptops, the CEA said.
It said that in 2005, the ratio of desktop PC unit sales to laptop PC unit sales was 58 percent to 42 percent.
The CEA said MP3/digital media players were expected to generate “strong sales” this year along with portable navigation GPS units.
“Unit sales of portable navigation grew 55 percent in 2008 and are expected to grow another 22 percent in 2009,” the CEA said.
It said the game console market is expected to grow by 5.4 percent in units and 1.1 percent in revenue this year.
Blu-ray DVD sales were expected to nearly double in both unit sales and revenue this year, the CEA said, with North America accounting for the largest percentage of Blu-ray sales followed by Western Europe and Japan.
The CEA said emerging powers China, Russia, Brazil and India now account for 24 percent of worldwide consumer electronics revenue, while North America and Western Europe combined account for 37.7 percent.
As for trends to watch this year, the trade association said to expect products that were environmentally friendly in terms of the materials used, packaging, energy efficiency and recycling potential.