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January 08, 2009

Forecast: U.S. Consumer Electronics Shipments to Dip Slightly, to $171 Billion, in '09

Following a rough holiday season and uncertain future as the recession deepens, the consumer electronics industry will generate $171 billion in U.S. shipment revenues this year, according to a forecast from an Arlington, Virginia-based trade group.

Officials with the Consumer Electronics Association say the figure marks a drop of about $1 billion from 2008, representing a .6 percent decrease.
CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said the industry is resilient but not immune from the business cycle.
“In a tough economy, our products offer high value for entertainment and an entry point for entrepreneurs creating new businesses,” Shapiro said. “Innovation will kickstart the economy.”
Digital TV displays, representing 15 percent of total industry shipment dollars, continue to fuel consumer electronics. As an expected transition to digital television nears, unit shipments of DTVs will approach 35 million in 2009, an increase of nearly 6 percent over 2008 shipments, the association says. LCD displays remain the top choice among consumers, representing 77 percent of total DTV units.
TV sets are getting extreme makeovers at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show. As TMCnet reported, the Internet company already made a splash at the  by joining Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. in an effort to power flat-panel HDTVs with Yahoo’s so-called “Widget Engine,” a platform that helps watchers interact with their sets.
Today, TMCnet reports, Yahoo! Inc. – a company that’s made more headlines in the past year for failing to be bought by Microsoft (News - Alert) than for innovation, is also joining Sony, LG Electronics, Toshiba, Samsung and Vizio – TV-makers that are rolling out flat-panel TV models embedded with the widget software, offering links to popular Web sites.
According to Yahoo spokesman Lucas Mast, the company has built 20 widgets to link television viewers to Internet destinations such as YouTube (News - Alert), Twitter, eBay, MySpace, Amazon, CBS, and The New York Times. Mast told the AFP that he expects that number to grow to 50 by June.
“We’ve been cooking this up in the lab for three or four years,” Mast reportedly said.
Here’s what a widget-enabled TV looks like:
Meanwhile, with the format war now settled, Blu-ray players are expected to see major growth in 2009, according to the CEA. With more content, new products and lower prices, annual Blu-Ray revenues are projected to eclipse $1.2 billion.
The updated sales and forecast report also shows consumers are turning to smartphones as their mobile phone of choice. Smartphone revenues will continue to grow this year, increasing nearly 20 percent this year, to $13.6 billion, the CEA says. As carriers increase the speed of their networks and offer new services in addition to communication, smartphones will account for more than 60 percent of total handset revenues.
According to Steve Koenig, CEA’s director of industry analysis, consumers continue to seek the best picture, sound and entertainment experience available.
“With a majority of U.S. homes owning an HDTV, consumers are looking to add high-definition content through Blu-ray players, gaming devices and home audio systems,” Koenig said.

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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