LAS VEGAS -- CES 2017 -- Global spending on consumer technology will drop 2% to $929 billion in 2017, following a fall of 1% in 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at the CTA, unveiled highlights from the group's Consumer Technology Extended Forecasts 2015-2020 report during a presentation at CES here last week. Unit sales and revenues were both forecast to be flat or slightly declining for most categories. Koenig listed the key drivers for sluggishness in the sector:
The strong dollar makes US products more expensive for other currencies, especially since growth is moderating in China and the Euro and Yen are comparatively weak.
Product volumes are flat or down in key categories, such as smartphones, PCs and TVs. In fact, even tablet sales are projected to fall 10% in 2017.
Retail prices are also trending lower in key categories: Smartphones will fall 3%, TVs 5% and Laptops 1%.
There are significant economic uncertainties facing the global market, including the Trump presidency, Russia, Brexit and oil prices.
As a result, Koenig anticipates that unit sales of consumer technology will stay at approximately the same level as this year, at 6.2 billion units worldwide. Asian markets, particularly the emerging economies of China and India, will be the largest markets for consumer technology products.
In terms of products, 81% of total consumer technology revenue will come from the "Magnificent Seven:" laptops, desktops, smartphones, digital cameras, TVs, tablets and wearables.
Global handset volumes will remain flat compared with last year, at 1.8 billion units. But the share of smartphones will increase even further, now accounting for more than three out of every four mobile phones sold. Smartphones and tablets will account for more than half of all device revenue in 2017.
Tablet volumes, however, are trending lower and so are PC volumes (both desktop and laptop) though less markedly. TV volumes are up, but only 1% and are almost entirely LCD units at the moment. OLEDs are still seen very much as an emerging category.
However, sales of Ultra HD TVs are ramping up sharply, with 81.9 million units expected to sell through in 2017, compared with 52.7 million in 2016.
Koenig also compared video viewing patterns across multiple devices, finding they have shifted in the past four years. The TV and desktop computer have been the big losers, with increased video viewing on laptops, tablets and smartphones in 2016.
The brightest category in the sector is wearables, with unit sales up 50% over 2016, to 184 million. The categories tracked include wrist sport computers, smartwatches and health/fitness trackers, among others. Koenig picked western Europe and China as key markets to watch in 2017, as they gain on the US market's early wearables lead.
Overall, growth is expected in emerging Asian markets in 2017, as well as central and eastern Europe. Expectations for North America, especially the US, have been revised upward but Canada and Mexico are expected to face some macroeconomic challenges. Western Europe will likely be sluggish and Koenig expressed concerns about growth in other regions as well.
Overall, it seems that the sector remains stable, but searching for the next great product that will ignite sales.
The CTA's forecasts are based on data from Gfk's retail consumer electronics sales tracking at more than 340,000 retail stores in 80 countries, coupled with US shipment data for dozens of CE categories on a monthly basis.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation