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I Can't Live Without You

8/08/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
NEW YORK — With apologies to The Guess Who, Bad Company, Ludacris, the Scorpions, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber and Pretty Ricky, all of whom have songs with that lyric.

Other than the few smart alecks who noted that they could indeed live without any of them, the answers we received to “Which CE products can you not live without?” weren’t all that astonishing.

First place, naturally, went to the all-encompassing computer category — desktops, laptops and tablets. As I type this on my office laptop, with my personal laptop sitting directly next to it, I have to agree with the 87 percent of people who chose it. I’m fairly certain the remaining 13 percent who don’t need one to live consist of my mother and my infant son.

In second place, with two-thirds of voters checking it off, were cellphones and smartphones. Again, the only real shocker is that a full one-third of people didn’t choose this. My unlimited-data-plan-suffering wallet is envious.

Taking the bronze was HDTV, with 41 percent. It should be noted that there wasn’t a single write-in for 3DTV … not exactly a bombshell for this anniversary issue, I suppose, but we’ll have to see what’s in store for our 30th … or 40th? Place your bets now.

It’s interesting to note that the top three in this question match the top three in one of the other survey questions — “Which categories have been the most important in the CE business in the past 25 years?” – although not in the same order. In that question (see p. 8), the first-, second- and third-place ribbons were given to HDTV/flat panels, smartphones/cellphones, and PCs/laptops/tablets, respectively.

Sadly, satellite radio didn’t do so well, nor did video games, with only a few people swearing their undying love for these categories. I suppose it’s possible that the true hardcore gamers were too busy gaming to take TWICE’s survey.

When asked for his theory on why games fared so poorly, Ross Rubin, industry analysis director at The NPD Group, noted, “Almost everybody likes to play games, but there’s a smaller but valued core of active gamers who are enthusiasts drawn to best-selling titles on consoles. For others, dedicated video game devices may not be as important, or they may be doing more of their gaming on smartphones. Also, games tend to be more immersive, whereas a medium such as music can be enjoyed while doing other things like driving.”

Less shocking is that CD players and burners tied for last with games and satellite radio. Frankly, I’d like to know who not only still uses this technology but goes so far as to say they can’t live without it.

I was, however, surprised that MP3 players ranked so lowly, nearly last with just 7 percent. I thought this perhaps indicated that streaming music is taking off in a big way, but Rubin told me that although NPD is seeing a shift toward streaming music, the low rating is more likely attributable to the actual device, not the activity. “Regardless of whether consumers are listening to local files or streaming, smartphones are supplanting MP3 players,” he said.

As a die-hard Zune user (yes, it’s a lonely group), I may need to rethink my device before our 30th.

Some of the survey write-ins were enlightening, others head-scratching. As a parent, I certainly agree with the person who said they can’t live without their digital camera, and as one of the perpetually lost, I also concur with those who named their GPS as a survival tool.

But for the person who listed an AM/FM tuner … well, let’s just see if that one re-appears in the 40th anniversary issue as well.

Finally, I’d like to tip my hat to Ryu Nagashima, general manager at Global Business Research, and Larry Marcum, a sales rep at JVC America, both of whom said they need all of these CE devices to live. It’s hard to argue with that.

And as for Gunars Vizulis in Latvia, who chose his Philips Sonicare as the item he can’t live without, while it’s not exactly a CE device, I’m certainly in agreement with the importance of lifetime dental hygiene.

Other Notable Write-In Answers:

1. E-book
2. Sonos
3. High-quality home theater
4. My hi-fi system
5. My two-channel audio system
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