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CEA’s DuBravac Talks 2013 CES Trends

Industry on the brink of a ‘second digital decade’

January 6, 2013 By Nancy Klosek
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“We are entering a second digital decade” where the consumer electronics timeline is shifting from mere device acquisition by consumers, which characterized the industry’s earlier history, to one where content and its curation are shaping consumers’ CE experience.  It’s a multi-layered story with many moving parts. And on the eve of the 2013 International CES, the CEA’s chief economist and senior director of research, Shawn DuBravac, put into context some of the major story lines that in his view are coloring what will be seen this week at the annual Las Vegas convention.

At least 10 companies are expected to launch Ultra HD TVs, accounting for around 50 model introductions all told, he said – part of the trend of manufacturers moving to high-pixel-density screens. And although he did offer some projections on the Ultra HD television category, forecasting around 23,000 unit sales for 2013 and close to 1.5 million by 2016 (which would account for just two percent of the total TV market that year), for the most part, DuBravac spoke sparingly about hardware, focusing his comments on four rising industry trends:

• The post-smartphone era. Smartphones, which launched in 2007 with the iPhone’s debut as a device used primarily for telephony, have morphed in their utility such that 65 percent of time spent on them today is spent in non-communicating activities, he said. Smartphones are now in 52 percent of U.S. households, and tablets, which started with a 20 percent penetration rate, are now in 40 percent of households, with deep “device density” per household. “The smartphone is the viewfinder for your digital life,” he said.

• The age of algorithms. With the decrease in pricing of technologies such as sensor technology, use of that technology moves from scarcity to surplus – i.e., wider deployment. And multiple-sensor deployment makes technologies such as driverless cars a possibility. “Increasing sensor density will enable us to digitize many things,” said DuBravac. He added that 350 million IP-addressable devices are expected to ship this year in the U.S. alone.

• Contextual connectivity. “Smart,” which heretofore has been the synonym for “connected,” now has come to mean building intelligence into that connectivity.

• The changing flow of storytelling. “We are quickly becoming digital omnivores,” said DuBravac, meaning consumers now effortlessly move among different digital devices and “second screens,” as device density per household increases. He said tablet device density is at 1.2 per household, and is expected to rise to 1.4 per household this year; by contrast, the 2.9 TVs owned per household has been a relatively static figure for some time.
 

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