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CES: Goodbye, 2008! Hello, 2009! Consumer electronics industry looks forward to growth amid recession

January 6, 2009 |  5:12 pm
Bye Bye, Bull Market

LAS VEGAS -- So much for 2008. Though 2009 looks just as grim, companies at the Consumer Electronics Show are seeing a few rays of sunshine.

The Consumer Electronics Assn., the industry group that puts on CES, projects growth in organic LED displays, digital book readers, Blu-ray disc players and so-called netbooks, or lightweight laptops.  Despite a 0.3% projected decline in overall consumer spending in 2009, people will continue to spend a large chunk of their income on technology.

“Technology’s share of consumer spending compared to other durable goods has never been this high going back to the 1960s,” Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist, said this afternoon during a state-of-the-industry preview for the press at CES in Las Vegas. That share, DuBravac said, is expected to grow, thanks to four technology trends that are expected to unfold in 2009 -- the appeal of environmentally friendly electronics, wireless gadgets that can be used in more places, expanded access to the Internet and a growing number of ways people can interact with their devices, from voice to gesture.

“Consumer electronics has become a necessity, not a luxury,” said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis.

Here are CEA’s 2009 forecasts for wholesale revenue growth for a few key segments:

  • Organic LED displays: +149%
  • Digital book readers: +110%
  • High-definition flash camcorders: +106%
  • Blu-ray disc players: +62%
  • LCD televisions with 120-or-higher-megahertz refresh rate: +57%
  • Netbooks: +80%

But as consumers delay, substitute or outright forgo purchases, some categories will take a hit. Consumers are likely to delay buying a new desktop computer, for example. Some may substitute a a less expensive netbook or laptop for a new PC. Other categories feeling the pain include aftermarket car audio and home audio systems, DuBravac said.

-- Alex Pham

Photo credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times