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Ultra HD, Mobile, Wearables Will Lead In 2nd Half

TWICE:What CE categories will drive sales during the second half?

Fred Towns, president, New Age Electronics & Jack of All Games: The industry started buzzing about the next wave of mobile hardware innovation toward the end of 2013 — many predicting 2014 to be “The Year of Wearable Technology.” The wearable device movement is certainly accelerating and will continue to gain speed during the second half of the year.

While we’re still a ways off from a society that answers phone calls and sends texts from a smart watch, the fitness and health-monitoring device subset of the wearable category is filled with must-have items for many consumers. This includes devices that monitor activities like steps, distance, calories and active minutes as well as diet, weight and sleep patterns. Fitness and health trackers will continue to drive sales and be all the rage for the holidays.

Audio and handheld devices will continue to be hot, as well as media devices that connect to smartphones. Since the smartphone has become the center of the consumer experience, any device or accessory that pairs with it will be in demand. Phablets will be the fastest growing mobile segment for 2014 with numerous manufacturers releasing devices that have a larger screen size and can function as a phone and tablet.

Google Chrome will continue to be significant — including Chromecast, Chromebook and other items within the Chrome platform. According to CEA, the second half of 2014 will see growth due to a number of positive economic factors including overall improving financial conditions, a receding sense of consumer uncertainty, firming employment and weather payback from the hard winter.

Alexandra Harding, vendor management director, Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics (IMCE): With the increased interest by early adopters of curved and Ultra HD TVs, the TV category will continue to be a strong player in CE sales for the second half of 2014 for IMCE. More than ever, headphones with higher price points will also be a heavy hitter in Q4. In addition, wearables and related health and fitness products will be an important segment during the holiday gift-giving season. As home automation becomes more affordable and consumer friendly, [it could be] a possible surprise category that could drive sales.

Jeff Davis, sales senior VP, D&H Distributing: We are still seeing solid momentum in tablets. Hopefully, 4K television technology will generate enough content to be a relevant force in the marketplace. We also see wearables as a growing area for the future, including health monitoring bracelets such as those from Fitbit, or the LeapBand wearable activity tracker for kids being launched by LeapFrog.

Bill Stewart, founder/CEO, Petra Industries: No surprise, mobile devices – tablets and smartphones – will continue to drive much of the CE market. Both dealers who sell the devices and those who don’t have opportunities to attach profitable accessories like cases, portable power and headphones. We also expect to see a lot of Bluetooth audio accessories attached to mobile device sales.

Bluetooth, wireless HDMI and other wireless protocols are making it easier than ever to install modern A/V systems, security, surveillance and automation into new and existing homes. Consumers who wouldn’t go the trouble or expense of wiring new technologies into their homes can now add new systems with very little difficulty.

And with combined reported sales of over twelve million units through early April, gamers are hungry for new games that take advantage of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One advances. And, as new games are released, we expect to see a significant uptick in accessory sales for these consoles.

Rick Wigen, product management VP, Almo: The current top selling categories – TVs, tablets, wireless audio systems and wearables – will continue to drive sales during the second half of this year. We’re not anticipating any new technologies or trends to emerge [for] the balance of the year.

Dennis Holzer, executive director, Power-House Alliance: Ultra HD TV and tablets will continue to drive the business during the second half of the year. Larger-size TV (60 inches-plus) sales and Ultra HD will continue to be strong, and as price points on Ultra HD decrease, sales will get stronger. I believe the surprise category will be audio. With the introduction of new surround sound capabilities later in the year — the first big change to audio in years — I believe there will be a tremendous resurgence in the audio business, which shortly thereafter will also push/pull significant increases in the speaker business also.

Curt Hayes, president/CFO, Capitol: The interest in Ultra HD will help drive display sales through the end of the year, especially in the custom arena where we’ll naturally see more of a push for larger and technically superior screen sizes. Ultra HD will have significantly more relevance in Q1 as content providers step up 4K output.

Wireless audio sales will continue to grow as well. The variety of configurations and price points seems to grow more every day. New product categories like the soundbase-type models give our customers an even greater selection to satisfy every customer’s needs.