CES puts numbers on the boom in tablets and smartphones

With the next Consumer Electronics Show due in Las Vegas in January, the CEA's 'CES Unveiled' roadshow came to London to give us an overview of the way the market is developing.
Written by Jack Schofield, Contributor

Tablets and smartphones are the consumer electronics products most Americans want for Christmas, and many of them would rather get a tablet than money or even “peace and happiness”, according to the Consumer Electronics Association's researchers.

Perhaps most people would have guessed as much, but CEA has numbers. It seems that 8.3 percent of Americans would like a tablet most of all, while 4.8 percent would like money, and 4 percent a laptop PC. Only 4.5 percent wanted peace and happiness.

2013 CES Unveiled logo

At the CES Unveiled presentation in London today (Thursday), the CEA researchers also provided numbers for “US holiday sales expectations”: the fourth quarter, including Black Friday and Christmas. They expect sales of 32m tablets, an increase of 112 percent on last year, 20.6m pairs of headphones (up 9.8 percent), 13.8m games consoles (down 10.4 percent), 12.8m MP3 players (down 10 percent), and 4.6m Blu-ray players (up 2.2 percent).

Steve Koenig, the CEA's Director of Industry Analysis, said that, overall, US shipments of consumer electronics devices would climb by 6 percent, but if you excluded tablets and smartphones, they’d fall by 5 percent. In particular, he said that MP3 players and satnavs were in decline due to the popularity of smartphones.

Shawn DuBravac, the CEA's Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research, pointed out that there were “unintended consequences” to the growth of smartphones, which were now being used as TV remote controls, health monitors, camera viewfinders and so on. “It was never the intention that you would measure your blood pressure or weigh your baby with your smartphone,” he said.

This rapid expansion of unintended applications could also have consequences for a wide range of industries, including the car and healthcare industries. DuBravac said that soon, he expected to be able to check into his hotel room with his smartphone, for example.

The CEA researchers expect the rapid growth in the number of connected devices to continue. In 2003, it seems we only had 0.08 connected devices each, spread over the world’s population. By 2010, this had increased to 1.84 devices each, and a total of 12.5 billion devices. CES expects this to grow to 3.47 devices each in 2015 and 6.58 devices in 2020.

If this is correct, that means 50 billion connected devices will be in use in 2020.

Unfortunately we don’t know how many will be scrapped between now and then, but given the short lifespans of smartphones and tablets, we could be looking for a lot of landfill….

Devices per person prediction
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