The Future Already Happened
People must know that I can’t predict the future, but that doesn’t stop them from constantly asking me what I think the next big thing will be. I typically offer two replies: one sardonic, the other serious. First, I’ll joke that if I knew what was coming, I wouldn’t be an analyst, I’d be a billionaire. The real answer is that while none of us can easily predict which device or development might shake up the CE industry next, there are many ways to gain a competitive advantage.
With the state of the economy still tenuous and consumer confidence and spending an ongoing concern, reliable numbers and actionable insights are more critical than ever. This is where CEA comes in. By using our manufacturer shipment data (CE MarketMetrics) and semi-annual industry forecasts, combined with robust consumer research and econometric analysis, we are uniquely equipped to explain and interpret the state of CE. Having just completed our summer forecast we can confirm that CE remains a healthy and vital industry. Total revenues in 2012 should climb to over $206 billion, a better than expected increase of 5.7% from last year’s total of $195 billion.
It can’t be ignored that this industry growth is almost entirely due to sales of mobile connected devices. In a development that reveals as much about where we’re going as it does about where we are, connectivity and portability have evolved from being buzzwords to requirements of relevance. Unshackled from a plugged-in experience, consumers have quickly adapted to—and now insist on—connecting to and controlling content anytime, anywhere.
As tablets and smartphones maintain their ascendancy, the focus will probably shift from what is coming to what is already here. Tablets will ship over 68 million units in 2012, up 115% from 2011, while generating $29 billion, an 83% increase from last year. Smartphones show no signs of slowing and will move 108 million units this year, up 24% from 2011, and generating $34 billion, a 22% increase year-over-year. We have witnessed a rapid transition from analog to digital. During the last decade, the content we read, watch and listen to has been accessible on devices we can put in our pockets. As the consumer experience becomes more enhanced by competitive price points and a ubiquity of easier-to-access content, the sweet spot of the next several years might not be new hardware so much as creative ways to deliver and customize all this information.