America's Consumer Electronics Association expects global sales to pass the $1 trillion mark in 2012, up from a forecast $961 billion this year, based on predictions provided by research company GfK. The good news is that the consumer electronics industry (cameras, TV sets, smartphones, laptops and many other devices) will grow by about 5 percent. "We are a bright spot in the economy," said CEA boss Gary Shapiro.
The less good news is that Western Europe is expected to grow by only 1 percent, compared with 7 percent in 2011. "The market opportunity is shifting away from the West."
The not-for-profit CEA runs CES, the giant Consumer Electronics Show, which is held each January in Las Vegas, Nevada. It held its first international event in London's government-backed "Tech City UK" yesterday -- a press conference called CES Unveiled @ London -- to share research, outline its plans for the event, and enable some companies to exhibit new products. These included the Pure Contour 100Di radio and iPhone/iPad dock, Ferguson-Hill's unusual home theatre equipment (the loudspeakers are transparent horns), Speekesee's video messaging system, Avid video editing software, and the Blippar augmented reality marketing system that won this week's UKTI TechWorld competition.
In a joint presentation, CEA industry analyst Steve Koenig and Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research, said US consumers were spending increasing amounts on technology gifts -- $246, on average -- and that they aimed to pick up bargains on the so-called "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving. They showed that Black Friday promotions were now starting to appear in the UK from, for example, Amazon.co.uk as well.
"In America, consumers have been trained, like Pavlov's dogs," quipped Koenig. "Your training begins now…."
Koenig and DuBravac pointed out that the "most requested" gifts changed frequently. Most people wanted DVD players in 2002 but they wanted MP3 players in 2005 and laptops in 2008. In the latest survey, tablet computers were most requested (14%), ahead of laptops (11%). However, they added, "this is a wish list, not a shopping list."
DuBravac mentioned Ultrabooks as one of the main topics of interested to trade visitors to CES (which is not open to consumers). "I expect to see 30 to 50 new Ultrabooks launched at CES" in January, he said.
Nick Baird, chief executive of UK Trade & Investment, said UKTI now had "a partnership" with the CEA and was taking Blippar to CES. According to CEA senior vice president Karen Chupka, this came about after "the Royal Couple" met Gary Shapiro in Los Angeles. "The Royal Couple did a heck of a job promoting trade," added Shapiro.
CES will open on January 9 in 2012, following a press day on January 8.