TWICE:The smartphone and tablet markets continue to grow, but at a slower pace than in the past. Will they still be growth engines for accessories products in 2014?
Bill Stewart, Petra Industries: The pace of growth always slows down a bit for categories reaching maturity and greater household penetration. Fashion, or perhaps just the desire for change, will impose the need to freshen-up an old case with the newest color or style, and worn or lost cables will always need to be replaced. The fact that everyone is relying on these devices for more and more function leads us to believe the market for accessorizing mobile devices will continue to drive growth. Manufacturers will continue to introduce new and innovative products that take advantage of smartphone and tablet capabilities as well as weaknesses like limited battery life or vulnerability to drops and exposure to the elements.
Jeff Davis, D&H Distributing: We feel that people will continue to upgrade at a faster rate than what is typical for a desktop or even a notebook, which means additional accessories as well. The operating systems and apps for these devices turn over much more rapidly than with PCs, so almost by virtue of their tendency toward quick obsolescence, they lend themselves to an increased refresh cycle. Plus, consumers will experiment with different screen sizes and features. Phones and tablets have really become the digital repository for one’s life, from storing photos and music to organizing the contact information for everyone you know.
Dennis Holzer, The PowerHouse Alliance: There are still a lot of consumers who don’t have a tablet or smartphone. As prices continue to decrease, many in 2014 will step up and make an additional tablet purchase, or for those who have been holding back because of price and or need will make their first purchase. As new consumers do purchase, like many before who purchased at higher costs, they too will also purchase many of the necessary accessories, keeping the category a very viable, strong and profitable business.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games: Growth rates for smartphones and tablets will be relatively small this year, but accessories will be hot. As products evolve, the need for accessory upgrades will continue to grow. Accessories are also becoming more of a fashion statement for consumers, with many carrying extra cases to switch out on their device. Accessories make great gift items, which helps them stay in demand year-round.
Curt Hayes, Capitol: We see continued growth fueled by premium branded high quality portable audio products driven by better-sounding Bluetooth technology. It helps that the most recent generations replace their smartphones on an average of every 12 months, and with their upgrades come an opportunity to promote better headphones, speakers and other accessories.
Rick Wigen, Almo: While some lines remain product specific, many accessories are now generic, which allows end users to continue their use even as they upgrade their tablet and/or smartphone. Therefore, I believe the accessory market will mirror the tablet and smartphone markets by growing but at a slower rate.