CES: North American Smartphone Sales Set To Grow

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Smartphones, LCD televisions and notebook PCs will drive the lion's share of global consumer electronics industry growth in 2009, but overall, the global market for consumer electronics products will remain relatively flat, according to recently compiled data from the Consumer Electronics Association and GFK Group.

In a Tuesday afternoon speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Tim Herbert, senior director of research for the CEA, said the "fairly strong" CE industry growth of 2008 will give way to slower growth in 2009. Globally, the CEA and GFK Group expect consumer electronics product revenue of $724 billion in 2009, compared to $694 billion in 2008.

Mobile devices represent the largest CE category, and will surpass 1.2 billion units sold in 2009, although unit growth is expected to be just 2.1 percent this year, according to Herbert. By way of comparison, mobile device unit growth was 13 percent in 2008 and 15.4 percent in 2007.

But while global mobile device sales are cooling, the forecast is radically different in North America, where consumer adoption of smartphones remains strong. Herbert said North American consumers' continued migration to smartphones will help drive 31 percent unit growth in 2009.

"The North American market is playing catch-up in this area, as other parts of the world have embraced mobiles before the U.S.,"Herbert said.

Televisions are the No. 2 consumer electronics category in both units sold and revenue, but the outlook for 2009 is far from rosy in this segment.

According to Herbert, the North American television market is expected to grow 6 percent in 2009, down precipitously from 29 percent growth in 2008. Global television market growth is expected to be 2.6 percent in 2009, down from 10.5 percent growth in 2008.

In 2008, LCD televisions overtook plasmas in unit sales and revenue, and while plasmas are expected to see positive unit sales growth in 2009, the segment will experience negative revenue growth, Herbert noted.

PCs represent the third largest consumer electronics product group, and notebook unit sales and revenue will continue to grow in 2009, while that of desktop PCs will continue to experience negative growth in both areas, Herbert said.

However, the CEA and GFK Group expect global PC growth to fall from 17.8 percent in 2008 to 8.2 percent in 2009, and in North America, growth is expected to be 5.6 percent this year, compared to 6.1 percent in 2008.
The growing popularity of netbooks, which carry a lower price tag than notebooks, will result in lower overall revenue growth in the PC segment in 2009, Herbert said.

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