Against the backdrop of a worldwide economic crisis, the consumer electronics industry continues to be one bright spot, or at least that was the upbeat message at the annual Consumer Electronics Show pre-holidays kickoff press event in New York held Tuesday by the Consumer Electronics Association. In a presentation forecasting the 2008 U.S. holiday season, several key points were made to back the upbeat message. While discretionary spending is down, technology's share of that spending is up, and keeps rising. It was approximately 10% back in 1980, and is up around 16% today.
Among adults surveyed, two years ago in 2006 digital cameras were the fifth most popular gift wish list item, video game systems were number eight, portable MP3 players were number ten, and TV sets weren't in the top ten. For 2008, video game systems moved to number seven, digital cameras have left the list, but television has moved to the number six spot (it peaked at number three in 2007).
Among teens, the most desired consumer electronics gifts this year are, in this order: computers, video game consoles, portable media players, mobile phones, digital cameras, and portable game devices.
The average total consumer holiday expenditure is expected to go down 14% this year, from $1,671 in 2007 to $1,437 in 2008. But on the bright side, the average percentage of gift budget allocated to consumer electronics is expected to rise from 22% ($194) in 2007 to 28% ($210) in 2008.
The CEA predicts Q4 growth in many categories, including 3.9% for audio/video, 11% for mobile phones, 5.6% for video games, and 6.9% for digital cameras and photo frames.
Though the CE industry outlook may not be as bleak as other sectors of the economy, the tech preview cocktail party following the press conference was noticeably emptier than in previous years, with fewer exhibitors. Nevertheless, CES 2009, held in Las Vegas in January, is expected to be the third largest ever with some 130,000 attendees, and will include for the first time a Sony TV studio within the convention where episodes of the "Jeopardy" syndicated TV game show will be shot with a live studio audience.