CES: Consumer Electronics Sales Flat in 2014

In the run-up to the start of the International 2015 CES conference in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Association reported generally flat sales figures for 2014, which were up about 1% to $1.024 billion.

North American consumer electronics sales of $225 billion in 2014 accounted for 22% of total global sales.

Looking forward, the CEA is predicting a 3.5% growth in sales for the U.S. in 2015, thanks to the ongoing economic recovery. The organization also noted that the TV set business, which has struggled in recent years, is beginning to recover and that 4K or UltraHD TV set sales are growing much faster than expected.

“We are at the beginning of another upgrade cycle in the U.S.,” explained Steve Koenig, director, industry analysis at the CEA.

Global 4K set sales are now forecast to hit 23.3 million in 2015. But about 13.3 million of those sets will be sold in China. By 2018, the CEA expects them to account for 41% of all displays sold. In the U.S. about 1.3 million UHD sets were sold in 2014, much higher than the half a million or so sets the trade group predicted last year before the start of CES.

In 2015, CEA predicts about 4 million 4K sets shipping with that number growing to 10 million in 2016.

“I think 2016 will be the real inflection point,” Koenig said.

Tablet and smartphone sales continued, however, to dominate the market, accounting for 46% of all global consumer electronics revenue, reported Koenig in the traditional pre-CES presentation to the press of market trends.

CEA expects about 1.5 billion smartphones to be sold in 2015, up 19% from 2014. Still, the growth in smartphones sales is starting to decline in both units and revenue. Overall unit sales are expected to rise 19% in 2015 compared to 28% bounce in 2014 and 49% jump in 2013.

In the revenue side, the growth slowdown was even more evident, as less expensive smartphones grab a larger market share. The CEA forecats that revenue will grow by about 9% to $373.9 billion and that the average price of a smartphone prior to the subsidies telcos provide subscribers has fallen to about $275.

Tablet growth is also slowing, with unit sales worldwide expected to increase by about 20% to 337.0 million units in 2015, up 20% from 281.3 million in 2014. But revenue declined from $68.4 billion in 2013 to $67.6 billion in 2014 and is expected to fall further to about $62.0 billion in 2015. Smaller less expensive tablets are also becoming the norm. The CEA predicts that the industry will ship in the U.S. about 33.4 million tablets with larger than nine inch screens and about 47.3 million with screens under nine inches. A number of tablets costing around $100 are expected to be on display at this year’s CES.

Better news seems on the way for TV set manufacturers who have struggled in recent years with declining unit sales and profits. TV set sales hit a peak of 262 million units sold worldwide in 2011, but then sales plummeted 8% in 2012 to 242 million sets. After a flat year in 2013, sets sales increased to 247 million in 2014 and are expected to rise 2% to 251 million sets in 2015.

The CEA also provided some data on emerging categories like smartwatches and drones. The CEA expects that about 10.8 million smart watches will ship worldwide in 2015 and that drones to grow into a $1 billion sector by 2018.

Overall some 20,000 new products will be launched at this year’s CES, predicted Shawn Dubravac, the CEA’s chief economist.