CEA: Mobile Device Sales Up, TVs Still Lead in Ownership

ARLINGTON, VA. -- Desire for mobility is driving sales of tablets, smartphones, e-readers and wireless mobile hotspots, according to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association. The 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study also found that consumer electronics spending was up 35 percent for individuals and 36 percent for households over the last 12 months.

Sales of tablet computers are driving growth, CEA said. Household penetration of tablets is up 17 percent year over year. The CEA study also found household increased penetration rates for smartphones (12 percent), e-readers (10 percent) and wireless mobile hotspots (10 percent).

Year-over-Year Increase in Household Penetration Rate

Tablet Computers






Wireless Mobile Hotspot


“For the first time in the 15 years we’ve conducted this survey, the top four products making headway in U.S. 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 percent and 39 percent respectively, and we expect they will continue to dominate the marketplace in the coming year.”

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

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

The study found that televisions are the most universally owned CE devices, with 98 percent of U.S. 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 percent of U.S. households. Nearly three in four (74 percent) U.S. households report owning at least one HDTV. Among HDTV sets, LCD TVs remain the preferred choice, with more than six in 10 (61 percent) U.S. 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, optimizing picture quality on their HDTV sets. 

Subscription Services
Nearly 43 million U.S. households (36 percent) subscribe to video rental and streaming services, and another15 percent 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.

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

Overall CE Spending
CE spending over the past 12 months is up considerably for both individuals and households. On average, U.S. adults reported spending $746 on CE products, a 35 percent increase over the prior year, while the average American household spent $1,312, an increase of 36 percent. Spending increased most dramatically for adults ages 25-34, up 62 percent 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.”

The study was conducted between Jan. 25-28 and Feb. 1-4, 2013.