For the second year in a row the U.S. consumer technology* industry saw a slight decline in overall sales, down 2 percent in 2012 to nearly $143 billion, following a less than 1 percent drop in 2011, according to global information company The NPD Group. Since 2010, consumer technology sales have declined by $4 billion.
“While sales fell in consumer technology for the second consecutive year, there was an uptick in Q4 which is cause for optimism,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “After struggles with declining categories, and increasingly saturated markets over the last few years, fourth quarter’s results may be the first sign that even as a mature industry consumer technology can grow again, albeit with a very different dynamic than in previous growth spurts.
The top 5 categories; notebooks, flat-panel TVs, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers accounted for 53 percent of sales in 2012, up from 49 percent in 2011. Tablets and smartphones were the only two of the top five categories to post growth, and accounted for all the increase in revenue share among the top categories. The rate of revenue decline for PC products accelerated year-over-year as tablet sales started to erode the computer marketplace. TVs remained mired in a cycle of declining prices and weak volume as the strong momentum from the very large screen market was unable to offset stagnant demand.
“While CE remains a dynamic industry the fact is that the stellar growth of the past few years has made growth today more difficult,” says Baker. “Most market segments have high penetration rates and the demand for additional devices is slowing, or declining. Tablets and smartphones have been able to stimulate demand for additional devices, but unfortunately it hasnt been enough, yet, to sustain positive growth trends.”
Best Buy, Walmart, Apple, Amazon, and Staples were the top retailers, again, in 2012. Apple is out in front, with just shy of 20 percent of overall sales and mor than double the share of nearest-rival Samsung, with HP, Sony, and Dell filling out the top five brands for the year and accounting for 45 percent of sales up from 42 percent in 2011. Apple and Samsung accounted for $6.5 billion in increased sales in 2012, while the remainder of the consumer technology industry declined by almost $9.5 billion.
*U.S. consumer electronics sales include CE hardware, consumables from NPDs Consumer Tracking Service, video game hardware sales from NPDs Retail Tracking Service, and mobile phones from NPDs Mobile Phone Track.
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