Feature Article

October 25, 2013

Smartphones and Tablets Now Drive Global Consumer Electronics

Once upon a time, the global consumer electronics industry was driven by TV sales. Now, global factory revenue for smartphones and tablets will exceed all other consumer electronics revenue for the first time.Worldwide original equipment manufacturer revenue for media and PC tablets and for 3G and 4G phones will amount to $354.3 billion in 2013, according to IHS.

That exceeds revenues for all other consumer electronics products by three percent. All other products will generate $344.4 billion.

All those other products include televisions, audio equipment, cameras and camcorders, video game consoles and home appliances. In 2012, all those product lines represented revenue 30 percent higher than revenue for tablets and phones.

As much as anything, those figures show the dominance of mobile consumer devices as the driver of global consumer electronics importance. Not only are mobile devices driving telecom industry growth, they now are driving global consumer electronics growth and interest. 

That partly explains the interest in multi-screen and new screen approaches to video content as well. Content supply, and all other revenue streams related to video entertainment, will tend, over time, to follow audiences and potential audiences. Increasingly, those audiences and potential audiences are using smart phones and tablets.

Up to this point, mobile and tablets have been additional screens. In many cases, they are starting to represent the primary screen. “The CE market has gone flat, with many of the major product types experiencing either low growth or declines in revenue during the past six years,” said Randy Lawson, senior principal analyst for semiconductors at IHS.

Consumers also are displacing sales of products such as digital still cameras, camcorders, GPS and media players.In contrast, consumer electronics OEM factory revenue has been flat during the past few years, growing by slightly less than one percent from 2007 to 2013. So smart phones and tablets have assumed new prominence in part because growth in the other categories has gone negative.Of the 20 distinct product segments tracked by IHS, 14 will suffer a decline in their compound annual growth rates (CAGR) from 2007 through 2013.

LCD TVs are seeing revenue growth of something less than 10 percent, representing a major slowdown from the 83 percent rise seen during the previous six-year period from 2001 through 2007.Still, the prominence of smartphones and tablets now extends beyond the communications business and such devices now drive the entire global consumer electronics industry as well.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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