Mobiles lead electronics purchases

US consumers’ desire for mobility is driving sales of tablets, smartphones, e-readers and wireless mobile hotspots, according to a study released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study also found that consumer electronics (CE) spending is up for individuals (35 per cent) and households (36 per cent) over the last 12 months.

Sales of tablet computers are driving growth in the CE industry; household penetration of tablets is up 17 per cent year over year. The CEA study also found household increased penetration rates for smartphones (12 per cent), e-readers (10 per cent) and wireless mobile hotspots (10 per cent).

“For the first time in the 15 years we’ve conducted this survey, the top four products making headway in US households are mobile devices,” said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst, market research, CEA. “We’re seeing overall household penetration rates for smartphones and tablets at 58 per cent and 39 per cent respectively, and we expect they will continue to dominate the marketplace in the coming year.”

Smartphone ownership continues to flourish, with 69 million US households now owning a smartphone. As a result, basic mobile phone (non-smartphone) ownership is steadily declining.

E-reader ownership increased from 19 per cent in 2012 to 29 per cent in 2013, and wireless mobile hotspot devices nearly doubled in ownership from 11 per cent in 2012 to 21 per cent in 2013.

Televisions are the most universally-owned CE devices, with 98 per cent of US households owning at least one TV. In the last year, Internet-enabled TVs experienced a nine point increase in household penetration rates, and can now be found in 38 per cent of US households.
Nearly three in four (74 per cent) US households report owning at least one HDTV. Among HDTV sets, LCD TVs remain the preferred choice, with more than six in ten (61 per cent) US households owing at least one LCD TV.

Households owning DVD players decreased by four percentage points in 2012, while ownership of Blu-ray disc players increased by five percentage points. This serves as an indication that households are continuing to replace DVD players with Blu-ray disc players, optimising picture quality on their HDTV sets.

Nearly 43 million US households (36 per cent) subscribe to video rental and streaming services, and another 15 per cent of households said they expected to subscribe to at least one of these services in the year ahead. Video subscription services are expected to continue to grow as these services evolve. Internet phone, digital file back-up, and music subscription services all experienced five percentage point increases over 2012 levels.

In terms of anticipated purchases over the next year, the mobility trend continues; 29 per cent of consumers said they plan to buy smartphones, second only to the 33 per cent who indicated that they were planning to purchase headphones. Other planned purchases include  notebook/laptop/netbook computers (22 per cent), tablets (21 per cent) and HDTVs (20 per cent).

CE spending over the past 12 months is up considerably for both individuals and households. On average, US adults reported spending $746 on CE products, a 35 per cent increase over the prior year, while the average American household spent $1,312, an increase of 36 per cent. Spending increased most dramatically for adults ages 25-34, up 62 per cent from 2012 levels to $1,171.

“Several factors are contributing to an increase in consumer spending. Unemployment numbers are declining. And prices are falling across several CE product categories as competition increases within these market segments,” said Tillmann. “This bodes well for consumers, affording them the opportunity to purchase more products and upgrade with greater frequency.”

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