New York - Plasma TVs are performing better while the overall TV market is still struggling, tablet PCs should be more popular in 2011 than originally projected, and digital cameras sales are still growing, despite competition from smartphones, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
Shawn Dubravac, chief economist and research director of CEA, made the observations during his "CEA Mid-Year Reality Check" presentation at the CEA Line Shows exhibition, here, this morning.
Dubravac began his talk by saying that CE sales have traditionally done well vs. major appliances, cars and other categories since 1960, and did well during the recession. But pent up car demand - the average car in the U.S. is close to 10 years old - may cut into that in the short term.
In TVs CEA projected in January that unit sales would be down from 2011 at 3.5 percent through 2014 at 1.1 percent. DuBravac said that through April LCD TV sales were down "3.5 percent, matching our overall unit sales projection." However growth for plasma this year has been 5.5 percent, higher than the originally forecast 4.6 percent.
3DTV unit sales have been up 187 percent through April , higher than the 65 percent gain predicted in January by CEA, totaling annual sales of 1.9 million. If sales rates hold, 3DTV sales should hit 3.3 million by the end of the year, DuBravac said. He expects 3DTV to perform comparably to other new technologies introduced in CE and predicts 35 to 45 percent of the category's yearly sales will be generated in the fourth quarter.
DuBravac said Internet TV has seen unit sales soar 160 percent year to date. The original CEA projection in January was 5.2 million units but if the trend holds it could reach 6.3 million units. But overall, TV sales will be down this year due to a sales drop in smaller screen sizes, which could be from tablet PCs cannibalizing the market. A more serious factor is price erosion, which was originally predicted to drop by 3 percent in LCDs and 9 percent in plasma. The combined categories have seen prices drop 15 percent year to date.
Speaking of tablet PCs, DuBravac said CEA's January projection of unit sales was conservative - 35 million - even though 17 million were sold in 2010. CEA's latest prediction is 42 million units sold during 2011, with fourth-quarter sales seen being especially hot as new players in the category finally begin shipping products.
He noted that smartphone and tablet sales during 2010 supplanted PC sales, with consumers turning to mobility as a key feature. And the avalanche of new suppliers entering the category is the overwhelming driver for consumers to buy one in the next 12 to 24 months. In tablets, 20 percent of those households that do not have one now -- 21.2 million in the U.S. -- intend to buy one during that period. In e-readers, 18 percent of households, or 18.2 million, intend to buy those products.
However all this interest in mobile tablets and e-readers does "not necessarily mean consumers sign up for cell services. Many of them use the product at home or at a place where they have a static Wi-Fi connection. Few use them at work or traveling." The main time they use them are weekdays (69 percent), and at night time (62 percent).
As fro digital cameras, DuBravac described the category as one that is "resisting decline" even as more smartphones have cameras topping 5 megapixels. Sales are up 11 percent year to date, with the under-$150 tier up in triple digits, and the $300 to $499 tier up 25 percent.