SAN JOSE In the wake of the Consumer Electronics Show, analysts are upbeat on the outlook for consumer systems, especially those tied to emerging mobile devices and 3DTV, the two big themes of the event. They singled out Apple and Qualcomm as two of the big winners from the show, although they sited overcrowded markets and carrier bandwidth as two limiting factors to watch.
"I am much more upbeat than last year, but I wouldn't say we are all the way back" from the downturn in 2009, said Ben Reitzes, a lead technology analyst at Barclays Capital in a teleconference.
He said demand for consumer products is above seasonal levels. He predicted PC sales could rise in 2010 by at least 15 percent and perhaps more than 20 percent, and printer sales are growing in double digits. "Component prices are the only negative with DRAM, NAND, flat panels, drives high--everything is a little tight," he said.
Gartner semiconductor analyst Amy Leong agreed. The company forecasts consumer chip sales will rise 13 percent to $255 billion in 2010 with tight NAND supply driving up chip vendors' revenues.
Home PC sales could rise 18 percent in 2010 after climbing 16 percent in 2009, according to Gartner, However revenues decline three percent last year and will only be up four percent in 2010, the market watcher said.
Among the big winners are Apple in systems and Qualcomm in semiconductors, the analysts said.
Barclays expects Apple will announce soon a new tablet computer selling for $500-$700. The device is expected to sport a new user interface, be optimized for games and include 3G and Wi-Fi.
The Wall Street analyst said Apple's supply chain is gearing up to make as many as 1.5 million of the NAND-based tablets a month or more than 10 million units in the first year. That could drive the stock up as much as $1.50, but it "is a rounding error" compared to expectations of a new iPhone that could launch in June and sell as many as 10 million units a quarter.
Reitzes expects the iPhone will define a new form factor and user interface for smartphones at a time when competing handsets from users of Google Android software are delivering devices similar to today's iPhone. The Apple handset is also expected to use expanded voice controls and new touch-sensitive capabilities companies such as Synaptics have demonstrated.
Barclays also expects Apple to provide the iPhone through Verizon, probably starting in late 2010 or early 2011.
Van Baker, a research vice president at Gartner was "not bullish" on slate and tablet products in general because they are too large to fit in a pocket, but too small to have full keyboards and displays. "I am struggling to find a clear need in the marketplace," Baker said.