HPA 2015: Consumer Electronics Update

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.—Sometimes irony just has its way, as it did with Jeff Joseph Tuesday at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat. Joseph is senior vice president of the Consumer Electronics Association. His consumer electronic laptop crashed just as he was about to start his presentation.

One reboot later, Joseph gamely speed-talked his way through the CEA’s latest numbers, starting with the 2014 ownership study. At the top of the list—TVs, which have 97 percent household penetration. DVD players were next, with 81 percent; digital cameras and laptops, each at 66 percent; and smartphones rounding out the top five at 64 percent.

Among the least-owned consumer electronics items—4KTVs, with less than 1 percent penetration. In about 2 percent of U.S. households, people have smart watches; 3 percent have smart thermostats; 5 percent have wearable body monitors and 5 percent have fitness watches.

Joseph turned to the consumer adoption of digital television, which he said occurred in four stages. The introductory phase between 1998 and 2005, when DTV penetration reached 12 percent. During stage two, 2006-13, penetration reached 50 percent (in 2008) and shipment volume peaked in 2012 at around 40 million.

Stage three, 2014-19, he defined as the “replacement cycle,” with ever-larger screen sizes, connected TVs and ultra HD sets. Joseph said 53 percent of consumers plan to replace their TV sets over the next three years. Stage four, projected to start in 2020, will involve the adoption of OLEDs, 8KTVs, thin, flexible screens and video walls.

In the meantime, Joseph said CEA is bullish about 4K. Consumers say they can see the difference between 4K and HD, but screen sizes and thin profiles are also driving adoption. The CEA anticipates shipment of 4 million 4KTVs this year, 10 million next year, 13 million in 2016 and 14 million in 2017.

LCD screens currently dominate the TV market, but OLED—organic light-emitting diodes—are inching into the market. The CEA’s OLED TV forecast calls for shipment of 143,000 OLED sets this year, with that figure roughly doubling year over year to 1.1 million in 2018. Curved TV sets are also on the rise, with 946,000 curved TVs shipped last year and a forecast of 3.4 million for this year.

In terms of distribution, cable remains the primary TV delivery system, though penetration fell from 61 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2014. Satellite rose in that period from around 24 percent to 31 percent. Joseph said Internet-only programming viewing is poised to surpass antenna-only reception, though antenna reception on at least one household TV has been making a slow resurgence since 2010, when it was 13 percent, and now stands at 17 percent.

On the tablet front, new form factors like the Lenovo Yoga convertible laptop/table, the Asus PadPhone and the Fuhu Nabi large touchscreen are emerging, but overall shipments are declining. Joseph attributed the decline to the wide adoption that’s already taken place.