Consumer demand for emerging technology is redefining the consumer electronics (CE) landscape, according to the U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts, the semi-annual industry report released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Arlington VA.
Retail revenues for the CE industry are now projected to grow 2.4 percent in 2015 to reach $285 billion, led by 101 percent year-over-year growth in emerging product categories. CEA’s consensus forecast reflects U.S. factory sales to dealers and covers more than 100 CE products. The bi-annual report serves as a benchmark for the CE industry, charting the size and growth of underlying categories.
Overall revenue growth
The July U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts report,, projects that total industry revenue will reach a high of $285 billion, accounting for retail markup, or $222.7 billion wholesale in 2015, a steady, 2.4 percent increase from $217.6 billion in sales in 2014. This midyear update is a slight downward adjustment from CEA’s projection in January, following slow economic growth in the first half of the year. Looking ahead to 2016, CEA expects industry sales to grow by 2.7 percent, with industry revenues reaching an all-time high of $228.8 billion.
“Consumer technology is about constant and continuous innovation and that is what we are seeing in 2015,” said CEA President and CEO, Gary Shapiro. “As the technology industry naturally ebbs and flows, a new class of tech is generating lots of enthusiasm among consumers. Emerging categories such as 4K Ultra HD, smart home and health and fitness technology, are the breakout stars driving the industry onward and upward.”
CEA’s forecast projects that revenues from emerging product categories will grow by 101 percent year-over-year in 2015. These developing technology categories include 3D printers, 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) televisions, connected home technologies, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), health and fitness technology, home robots, smart eyewear andsmart watches.
While the emerging product categories represent less than five percent of the entire CE industry revenue forecast, they are expected to contribute roughly $10 billion to overall CE revenue in 2015. Without these categories, overall industry revenue would not sustain any growth in 2015. A few of the stand out products include:
* Health and fitness technology: Led by the popularity of activity tracking devices, health and fitness devices will lead unit sales among all wearables in 2015 with a projected 20.3 million units (a 21 percent increase from last year), with revenue reaching $1.8 billion in 2015 (an 18 percent increase year-over-year).
* Connected Home Technologies: Including smart thermostats, smart smoke detectors, IP cameras, smart home systems, smart locks, connected switches, dimmers and outlets, the booming connected home technology industry is expected to reach $967million in revenue in 2015, jumping 32 percent over last year.
* Drones: CEA market research expects 2015 to be a defining year for drones, with the category ideally positioned for steady growth. According to CEA projections, the U.S. market will approach $105 million in revenue in 2015 (increasing by more than 52 percent from 2014) with unit sales expected to approach 700,000, an increase of 63 percent.
“The back half of the year should give way to improving financial conditions that will drive consumer spending, setting up a stronger second half for consumer tech,” said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist of CEA and author of the New York Times best-seller Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. “The test that remains for 2015 is if the impressive growth driven by nascent, emerging categories, as well as subsector growth, can offset some declines in mature categories and drive the tech industry towards sustained growth in 2015.”
Smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, laptops and desktops remain the top five largest revenue categories in 2015. Combined, these product categories contribute over half (53 percent) of the entire industry’s revenues ($119 billion).
* Smartphones: As the clear leading sales category in the industry, smartphone unit shipments are projected to reach 177 million this year, up seven percent from 2014. Additionally, smartphone revenues are expected to generate $54 billion in 2015, a ten percent increase from last year.
* Tablets: Phenomenal growth of tablets over the last five years has accelerated the category’s near-term saturation and maturity. Today, 54 percent of American households own a tablet according to CEA research. As the replacement cycle lengthens and consumers continue to adopt larger screen smartphones, tablets continue a gradual decline in unit shipments that began last year. CEA projects unit sales to reach almost 73 million this year, a five percent decrease from 2014, with revenues expected to reach $23 billion this year, down by seven percent.
* Laptops, Notebooks and Netbooks: As the strongest growth category in computing, notebooks and netbook unit shipments are estimated to reach almost 28 million unit shipments in 2015 (a nine percent increase over 2014) and almost $18 billion in revenue (a nine percent increase).
TV sales remain critical as the industry’s third-largest contributor to total industry revenue, with sales of TV sets and displays projected to reach $19.4 billion in 2015, on par with 2014, and unit sales projected to reach 36 million, down five percent from last year. Looking ahead, larger screen sizes and innovative display features have more consumers upgrading their video experience.
* 4K Ultra High-Definition: Consumer excitement is driving incredible growth for 4K UHD TV. Unit shipments of 4K UHD displays are projected to reach 4.4 million in 2015 (a 210 percent increase), driven in part by the market introduction of next-generation technologies. Revenue from 4K UHD displays is expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2015, more than double its 2014 total (a 136 percent increase).
* Large Screens on the Rise: As picture quality improves, consumers are turning to larger screens sizes. Unit shipments of televisions over 40-inches will account for 63 percent of television shipments in 2015, a 10 percent increase from 2014.