Despite the impact of COVID-19 around the world last year, sales of consumer electronics products generated factory dollar revenue of $358.5 billion, up 7% from 2019, according to data released by market research firm Strategy Analytics.

According to the firm’s Global Consumer Electronics Market Forecasts 2014-2024, home computers, tablets and video game consoles were among the world’s top revenue generators over the course of 2020.

The report said shipments of home computers and tablets grew 11% reaching 396 million units shipped, and accounting for a 17% rise in revenue to $199 billion. The increases were attributed to millions of people coming to terms with the pandemic by purchasing new electronic devices to assist with working and learning from home.

In some regions of the world, many people forced to shelter at home also sought to upgrade or supplement their home entertainment gear, which contributed to an 18% rise in gaming console revenue to $11.9 billion. The category was helped significantly in the fourth quarter of 2020 behind the launch of two next-gen gaming consoles.

As for televisions, the sales performance varied between different regions of the world, with North America and Europe showing growth, but overall unit sales finished down -2% on a global basis. Strategy Analytics said, however, that the decline was not a severe as forecast before the pandemic in 2019.

The wireless speaker category including smart speakers also suffered, showing a 3% decline in unit shipments to 240 million.

In the United States, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) released its own data during its the recent virtual CES 2021 showing U.S. households played video games more than ever last year, as they sought entertainment and ways of staying socially connected while at home. The CTA projected video game software and services to reach $47 billion in revenue in 2021, up 8% from 2020.

The CTA said the new console releases from Sony and Microsoft will continue to drive sales going forward in 2021, as the supply chain catches up with consumer demand. Combined home and portable console shipments in the country will reach 18 million units in 2021, up 3%, and earning $6 billion in revenue (up 16%).

The U.S. thirst for bigger and better television sets encouraged households to channel discretionary dollars into upgrading TVs while setting a record for unit shipments in 2020. CTA said it expects to see steady demand in the U.S. for displays in 2021 as TVs remain the centerpiece for entertainment in homes.

According to CTA industry research, U.S. television shipments will drop 8% to 43 million units in 2021, the second-highest volume on record, while revenues will decline just 1% to $22 billion. Growth areas for TVs in 2021 include sets over 70-inches (3.3 million units, up 6%) and 8K Ultra High-Definition TVs (1.7 million units, up 300%).

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics said the full year global results for the CE industry reflected significant improvement overall compared to forecasts made at the start of the outbreak. Strategy Analytics said its own forecasts for the year originally called for a mostly flat market overall, as manufacturers began to prepare for factory and store shutdowns in Q1- and Q2-2020.

Fortunately, the disruptions proved to be shorter term than at first feared, while demand ratcheted up around the world in the second half of 2020.

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The research firm said government financial support measures were a factor in helping sales activity return, as demand out stripped supply in some categories.

“Looking at this data you would be forgiven for thinking 2020 was another normal year,” stated David Watkins, Director, Connected Home Devices. “In contrast to doomladen predictions of economic collapse made as the pandemic took hold, consumers continued to find budget for technology which helped them through the crisis. Home entertainment has rarely been as important in people’s lives, and vendors of smart TVs, video streamers and games consoles stepped up to the plate.”

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By Greg Tarr

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