Smartphones and Tablets Are Eating Other Gadgets Alive, Says CES Organizers [CES 2012]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2102 — The Consumer Electronics Show is kicking off with some sobering news. Smartphones and tablets are eating all other electronics alive, says the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the organizer of the show.

“Smartphones and tablets are really sucking up most consumer spending,” said Steve Koenig, director of research at CEA, during a Sunday afternoon opening keynote outlining key trends for the industry this coming year.


According to the Koenig’s numbers, sales of almost all consumer electronics products will slow down or go negative in 2012 thanks to explosive growth of just two categories: tablets and smartphones.

The massive growth of mobile is cannibalizing sales of almost everything else in the CE space, from game consoles to PCs, TVs, DVD players. MP3 players, digital cameras, home audio and even printers.

That’s bad news for the thousands of exhibitors here at the show the make these devices, but good news for Apple and Google, which dominate the mobile category.

Koenig’s research illustrates the massive impact of mobile. Phones and tablets are increasingly doing double duty for a host of gadgets, functioning as personal computers, entertainment consoles and gaming devices. That means consumers are more likely to spend money buying an iPad than upgrading an old TV or DVD player.

Outside of mobile, Koenig said the only other bright spots are high-end DSLR cameras and ultrabook mobile PCs, which are hanging in from the assault from Apple and Google. TVs are also holding steady Koenig said, but at an earlier press conference, another CEA researcher said the TV industry is scared witless of Apple entering the space.

Nonetheless, the CEA expects consumers to spend a record $1 trillion dollars on CE devices in 2012. It’s just that most of that money will be spent on smartphones and tablets, especially in developing economies.