CTA Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac

It should be another good holiday season for television purchasing and gift giving, although the category that once spurred on Black Friday shopping mania with fistfights over door-buster specials, will be somewhat more subdued as more and more holiday shopping dollars gravitate to on-line purchases, and mobile technology products.

That was the assessment of Shawn DuBravac, Consumer Technology Association chief economist, Thursday at the association’s CES 2017 Unveiled sendoff in New York City’s Metropolitan Pavilion.

DuBravac said the CTA is sticking with its predictions that U.S. 4K Ultra HDTV unit volume will eclipse 4.5 million over the fourth quarter of 2016 ad that 4K Ultra HD TV unit volume will be up 40 percent for the holiday buying period.

DuBravac pointed to October 2015 and November 2015, which were the first months to see 4K Ultra HD TV unit volume exceed 1 million units a month, as key indicators that the activity will be even more brisk this year.

Curiously, however, holiday TV purchases will not be the primary sales generators this year, he said, as the trend continues to shift toward emerging technologies and mobile electronics.

Read more on the CTA’s consumer electronics holiday forecasts after the jump:

DuBravac said things are still on track for the consumer technology industry to see overall 3.8 percent growth in holiday sales on a year-to-year basis.

“We expect a big piece of that to come from the online channel,” he pointed, showing the increased popularity of consumers doing their Black Friday shopping work from the comfort of their computers and mobile devices.

Online sales should be up 16.4 percent overall, and mobile electronics sales will be up 45.2 percent, according CTA research.

The growth for the holiday season is clearly in the online, mobile electronics area,” DuBravac said. In all, consumer spending on technology oriented products this holiday season will be up 3.1 percent.

Helping holiday sales will be growth in available revolving credit, DuBravac said.

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“In the last six months, revolving credit has been growing at a rate of about 6 percent on a year-to-year basis,” he said. “This suggests to me that banks are building confidence and are willing to extend those loans to consumers, and we also have consumers willing to take on some of that credit.”

“The three key themes helping to define the holiday season this year are existing categories continuing to show strength, emerging tech (like drones, 3D printing, health and fitness systems electronics, virtual reality and home automation technologies) percolating throughout the holiday story especially in gift-giving plans, and online sales. This will be especially driven by mobile electronics sales, are defining the growth profile for the year, DuBravac added.

Another hot area for gift giving will come from the voice computing. The industry has made tremendous strides in voice recognition systems over the last two years, giving rise to PCs that use voice commands as the primary interface, along with peripheral devices like Amazon’s Alexa that can respond to spoken commands to look up facts on the internet and operate various electronic devices linked on a home network.

DuBravac said the graphical user interface began to disappear with the emergence of wearable electronics devices and fitness trackers. This is ushering in an age of faceless computers that use vocal computing for robots and emerging computing applications.

The emergence of the “smart home” is also beginning to explode on the market, with smart home related product spending to account for $25 billion in 2016, DuBravac said. He compared the development of indoor plumbing that helped ignite the penetration of electric dishwashers in the home to the growth of smart household appliances like connected refrigerators, security systems and home lighting after development and widespread implementation of home Wi-Fi networks.

Moving forward, Gary Shapiro, CTA president, said the arrival 5G will be a major theme at this year’s CES 2017, as “it presents the potential to improve our lives on the road, on the go and in the home. Home is now where the smart is, and our houses are changing, becoming more secure and more efficient than ever before. We are going to see how at CES, with a whole Smart Home Marketplace. It will span more than 82,000 square feet and include everything.”

This year’s CES will market the 50th Anniversary of the event, which will take place the first week of January in Las Vegas, and will encompass more than 2.4 million net square feet of exhibit space, and more than 3,800 exhibitors including more than 600 startups.

Related to that will be a new showcase called the Sleep Tech Marketplace, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, which will “showcase new and emerging technology innovations dedicated to helping us sleep more soundly,” Shapiro said. Categories will me sleep tracking devices and even “smart beds” that measure the way we sleep.

Also soon to emerge will be a new market for driver-assisted or autonomously driven automobiles, which will be a primary part of the showcase of CES 2017.

The continued digitization of the consumer experience will also lead to new ways of experience electronics entertainment with virtual reality and augmented reality devices giving rise to mixed reality experiences which will begin to emerge as a major new consumer category in coming months and years.

As for CES 2017, much of the focus that traditionally has been put on television, home theater and computing products and technologies is shifting to new devices and ecosystems. Among these will be the continued growth of Hi-Res Audio products and music delivery systems and services.

This year, the show will feature a Hi-Res Audio pavilion with 19 participating companies from the hardware and content sectors including: Sony (Electronics and Music); Samsung; Warner Music; Universal Music; ELAC, dCS; Onkyo; Audioquest; MQA; Autonomic; Astell & Kern, Autonomic; DTS; Westone; AIM; RIAA and MYTEC.

The show will also be the platform for the continued evolution of 4K Ultra HD displays, content, streaming services and components, which major advances expected in smart TVs with more robust voice interface technologies, more dynamic high dynamic range (HDR) systems, smart home connectivity and other innovations.

By Greg Tarr


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