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Consumer-Electronics Sales Growth to Cool a Bit

Las Vegas — The Consumer Electronics Association expects factory-to-dealer sales of consumer electronics to grow 7% to $155 billion this year, a smaller advance than in recent years.

The projection — from the trade group's U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts 2002-07 report — compared with the 13% increase the organization said the industry registered from 2005-06.

CEA senior vice president of industry relations Todd Thibodeaux acknowledged that the 2006 industry growth far exceeded the trade group's conservative forecast at the beginning of the year.

“We originally forecast 8% growth, but when all was said and done, we saw an impressive 13% growth for the year,” Thibodeaux said in a statement. “Consumers started the year investing in innovative consumer-electronics products and seemingly never stopped. With the 2007 forecast, we see the consumer love affair with technology continuing at a healthy clip.”

Thibodeaux said the display category, buoyed by flat panels, will continue to fuel industry growth in 2007, especially with steep pricing declines in plasma and LCD products. Moreover, all TV sets currently manufactured with analog tuners must also contain digital tuners, which is largely responsible for the vast increase in digital-television sales.

The CEA projected that display technologies will account for $26 billion in revenue this year, up about 10% from an estimated $23.6 billion in 2006. All told, flat-panel displays are expected to ship 19 million units.

Next-generation consoles will make the video-game market one to watch in 2007, with holiday sales expected to lift revenue 23% in 2007 to $16 billion.

MP3 players continue to drive the audio market: the CEA projected MP3 players will account for 90% of the $6 billion in revenue for the portable-entertainment market.