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CE Sales Slipped 2% In 2012: NPD

Port Washington, N.Y. — U.S. CE sales slipped 2 percent last year to $143 billion, The NPD Group reported, although the fourth quarter showed a slight year-over-year uptick.

The decline was the second consecutive dip for the CE market, and steepened from the less than 1 percent slip in 2011, the market research firm said. Tech sales have fallen by $4 billion since 2010.

Leading the decline last year was computers, with desktop sales dropping 11 percent and notebook revenue falling 9 percent. TV followed with a 7 percent decline in dollar volume.

Tablets were the biggest gainers, with revenue up 42 percent year over year, although growth slowed dramatically from the category’s 135 percent increase in 2011. Smartphones also performed well, up 25 percent in sales, and maintained most of last year’s momentum, when revenue rose 28 percent.

Together the four categories accounted for 53 percent of total CE sales, up from 49 percent in 2011.

“While CE remains a dynamic industry, the fact is that the stellar growth of the past few years has made growth today more difficult,” said NPD industry analysis VP Stephen Baker.  “Most market segments have high penetration rates, and the demand for additional devices is slowing or declining.  Tablets and smartphones have been able to stimulate demand for additional devices, but unfortunately it hasn’t been enough yet to sustain positive growth trends.”

Broken out by brand, Apple, with a nearly 20 percent market share, maintained a sizeable lead over No. 2 Samsung, with a 9.3 percent share, followed by HP (8.2 percent), Sony (4.4) percent and Dell (3 percent).

 Apple and Samsung both increased their market share by more than 2 percentage points, while Sony’s fell by 1.3 points and HP and Dell both conceded less than 1 point of share.

Despite the mixed full-year results, Baker said the fourth-quarter uptick “is cause for optimism. After struggles with declining categories and increasingly saturated markets over the last few years, the fourth quarter’s results may be the first sign that even as a mature industry, consumer technology can grow again, albeit with a very different dynamic than in previous growth spurts.”