By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Computer sales are on the rise year-over-year, according to data from research firm The NPD Group. In the 12 months ending in October 2007, the United States saw a combined total of $13,784,799,416 in dollar volume at retail between desktop and notebooks. This number is up from $11,530,302,757 the year before and $10,146,238,821 in the same period ending October 2005.
As the years progress, U.S. consumers appear to be continuing to ramp up their notebook purchases at the expense of the desktop category, at least in terms of dollar volume share. In the 12 months ending October 2007, NPD reported that the desktop category only saw 27.2 percent dollar volume share compared with 72.8 percent dollar volume share received by the notebook category.
This uptick in notebook sales is expected by analysts to have a continued effect on the computer accessories market.
Display Search analyst John Jacobs likened the growing notebook category to what he called the "iPod economy," in essence indicating that he expects a mini industry to evolve purely based on providing notebook attachment products.
Jacobs told TWICE, "The market for notebook accessories, I think, will continue to grow." He listed a variety of categories in which he sees potential including docking stations, keyboards, mice and bags. "We've seen the variety of carrying cases for notebooks in the last years just explode," he said.
Steve Baker, industry analyst for The NPD Group, also spoke to TWICE about the computer accessories market.
"In general, mice and keyboards are doing relatively well," he said. "There's a strong market for notebook mice."
Baker also said that he saw "a strong niche for gaming," "a nice replacement market" and "relatively affordable prices."
He mentioned a few categories he thought might face challenges in the future. For instance, he said, "Cable sales are going down because more things are wireless."
Baker also said that USB connectivity products might begin to take a hit as computer design evolves. "Things are declining [there] because so much of that is built in to the PC now. You don't need to buy as many hubs," he said.
He did later mention that there could be potential for smaller USB hubs designed for notebooks.
In general, there are a variety of new accessories hitting the marketplace for both desktop and notebooks. Following is a smattering of some of the latest additions to the category:
APC is unveiling its Back-UPS 750 (BE750G), which it calls a "highly efficient uninterruptible power supply that provides battery backup and surge protection to connected equipment while saving electricity." It features master/controlled outlets that shut down power to unused peripherals when the computer is in sleep mode. It's available this month at a suggested $99.99.
D-Link is now offering a wireless four-port USB hub, the DUB-2240, designed to allow users to wirelessly connect USB-enabled peripherals. It is also said to enable wireless transmission of video, audio and other high-bandwidth files from those peripherals.
The DUB-2240 includes a Quick Setup Wizard for plug-and-play operation. Up to three DUB-2240s can be attached to the same separately purchased wireless USB adapter.
At press time, D-Link said its DUB-2240 would be available at a suggested retail of $119.
Iogear is introducing a Bluetooth laser mouse (GME228BW6) in the first quarter of 2008. The mouse comes with a four-way tilt-wheel scroll and laser sensor. Its VCSEL light source is said to provide 30 times more tracking power than mice with an optical sensor and allows the mouse to operate on virtually any surface. It is integrated with HID profile Bluetooth technology and carries a suggested retail of $69.95.
Also new from Iogear is a 3.5-inch e-SATA 3 Gbps/USB 2.0 Combo Ion Drive Enclosure (GHE7135S3W6), said to convert internal SATA disk drives into external USB 2.0 or SATA hard drives so users can save data from older computers onto new machines. The enclosure is priced at $59.95.
The company is also bowing a Network Anything USB (GUIP201W6) at a suggested $89.95. It is said to enable up to five USB devices to be shared over a network.
Data Drive Thru is following its introduction last year of the Tornado PC-to-PC file transfer product with the introduction of a Mac-to-PC product called the iTornado. The company describes the product as a "file transfer microcomputer" designed to help users transfer data between Windows and Mac operating systems.
The plug-and-play device simultaneously connects to two computers via retractable USB cables. Once connected, it initiates a peer-to-peer network between the two computers. A split-screen display will appear on the monitors of both machines and using this interface, the user can drag and drop files from one machine to another at speeds of up to 25Mbps.
The product, also said to be useful for creating backup files, carries a suggested retail of $79.95. It comes with a separate bonus copy of PC Easer, meant to clean files from computers so users can dispose of old machines without fear that their personal files will fall into the wrong hands.
Jasco is introducing a spate of licensed GE-brand products including a GE EasyCam for notebooks, a GE Bluetooth laser mouse and a line of GE Color Impact accessories this month.
The GE EasyCam for notebooks can be stored in the notebook's PCMCIA network card slot when not in use. The Web cam connects via a USB 2.0 connection and is said to capture 640 by 480 video. It comes with ArcSDoft WebCam Companion software and carries a suggested retail of $39.99.
Jasco's GE Bluetooth laser mouse connects to Bluetooth-enabled computers and can operate at a distance of more than 30 feet. It is ergonomically designed, uses a laser interface for control on almost any surface and features a charging dock to charge and preserve the batteries when it is not in use. The mouse carries a suggested retail of $69.99.
Finally, Jasco's new GE Color Impact accessories line features a variety of products available in four colors: magenta, yellow, navy blue and lime green. Products include optical mini mice, retractable optical mini mice, four-port USB hubs with rotating cubes, flexible headsets and USB cables. Suggested prices range from $9.99 to $29.99.
JDI Technologies has introduced its GoldX XPO device, a memory solution for users looking to transport data without having to bring a PC along. The USB-connected device uses single-level cell NAND flash memory. According to the company, it can function independently of a PC.
The XPO uses of swappable tips to provide a customizable solution for multiple device configurations." The product is expected to be available in the first quarter for less than $140.
Micro Innovations has introduced its battery-free wireless optical mouse, model PD999BFW. The plug-and-play USB mouse uses radio-frequency-identification technology and an electromagnetic mousepad to power the mouse; the action of the mouse moving over the special pad is said to generate enough power to run the mouse, eliminating the need for batteries.
The mouse features two wheels, a traditional one and an additional four-function one that allows for horizontal scrolling, features a zoom in/ zoom out function said to support more than 100 programs, a "backward/forward Web page" function and a "previous/next" function for documents.
Avenues in Leather has bowed a series of licensed wireless optical mice under the SwissGear brand. The mice offer 27Mhz wireless connectivity, five-button designs and are equipped with on/off buttons.
The Spyder is available in an "auto-racing black and red" design at a suggested $39.99. It features an ergonomic right-handed design and a built-in center scroll wheel with a rubber tread, and a low-battery indicator light. The product's USB receiver is hidden in the bottom of the mouse for safekeeping.
The Daytona II model is a wireless mini optical mouse available in fire-red and black or electric-blue and silver designs at a suggested $29.99. Designed for portability, its USB receiver is stored in a protected compartment on the underside of the mouse. It also features a low-battery indicator light.
The Pantera II model is called a "wireless ultra-mini optical mouse." It is available in a fire-red and black design for a suggested $24.99 or pink for $29.99.
Philips is offering a spate of new products including wireless and corded mice, keyboards and desktop sets, and all-in-one computer workstations. Many will be available starting in March.
The company's wireless notebook laser mouse, model SPM8713, offers the company's twin-eye laser technology, said to work on virtually any surface. It uses a 2.4GHz digital wireless connection and features 1,600-dpi resolution reactions to require less movement when controlling the mouse. The product also features smart power management that automatically turns off when it is not in use, said to provide a one-year battery life.
Philips' keyboards and desktop sets, models SPK2700, SPK3700 and SPT3700, feature drainage holes to help keyboards survive accidental liquid spills, laser printing intended to extend the keyboards' lives. Twelve multimedia hot keys are included with models SPK3700 and SPT3700 for one-touch access to components like the Internet, music and email.
Finally, Philips' computer workstations are designed to be a all-in-one surge protectors for the PC. They will be available in May and are engineered to fit on the desktop under most 17-inch flat-screen monitors. The products feature outlets on the back of the unit for permanent connections, and phone/network line protection. Each features a glossy-black housing, a clock/temperature display and comes with a 6-foot power cord featuring an offset right-angle plug.
Model SPP4110WA/17 features six rear outlets, a 3,000 Joule rating, a three-slot card reader and a two-port USB hub. It will be covered by a $350,000 warranty and will be available at a suggested $169.
Model SPP4420WA/17 features eight rear outlets, a 4,000 Joule rating, coaxial line protection, a four-slot card reader and a four-port USB hub. It will be covered by a $450,000 warranty and will be available for a suggested $219.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.