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CEA Finds Major Growth In Mobile, Internet-Connected CE

Arlington, Va. — Internet-connected electronics and mobile-lifestyle electronics are posting the strongest gains in sales and household penetration, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) said in releasing details of its 16th annual survey on CE ownership and market potential.

Four of the top five CE products that surveyed households said they will buy in 2014 are mobile products, CEA said. The top choice is smartphones, which 27 percent of households plan to buy, and over-ear and on-ear headphones, which 27 percent also plan to buy.

Other planned purchases in the top five are TVs (20 percent), laptop, notebook or netbook computers (18 percent), and tablets (16 percent).

Households are also purchasing Internet-connected electronics at a rapid pace, with the highest gains in household penetration coming from Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets, smartphones and portable wireless speakers, CEA found in its early-year survey.

Household penetration of Internet-connected TVs rose 9 percentage points, to 24 percent, in the latest survey, and Internet-connected Blu-ray penetration rose 8 points, to 39 percent. Tablet penetration rose 6 percentage points, to 45 percent, and smartphone penetration rose 6 points, to 64 percent.

In the latest survey, household penetration of smartphones exceeded penetration of basic cellphones for the first time, CEA said. Basic-phone penetration was 51 percent in the latest survey.

Penetration rates of portable wireless speakers rose 5 percentage points, to 30 percent. The category includes Bluetooth-, Wi-Fi- and AirPlay-enabled speakers.

“Consumers are now turning to many of the emerging connected products entering the market today, such as smart watches, connected fitness devices and smart thermostats,” added senior research analyst Kevin Tillmann.

Smart watch ownership is currently less than 2 percent but is expected to more than triple by 2015, CEA said. Likewise, 8 percent of households expect to own a fitness activity tracker by next year, up from 5 percent in 2014. Ownership of smart thermostats is expected to grow from 3 percent of households to 5 percent of households by next year.

In another finding, CEA said that despite the continued growth of online retail sales, 85 percent of U.S. households who bought CE products in the past year did so at brick-and-mortar retail stores. In addition, households that bought CE devices in the past year say they are 49 percent more likely to make CE purchases online in the year to come.