CES wrap-up and 2012 outlook

With over 153,000 attendees and 3,100 exhibitors, the CEA has reported that the CES show was the largest in the event’s history. So, does this mean that we can expect an increase in consumer expenditure this year?
By Shane Walker, CE Group Director, IMS Research January 18, 2012

IMS research: excellence in market intelligneceWith over 153,000 attendees and 3,100 exhibitors, the CEA has reported that the show was the largest in the event’s history. So, does this mean that we can expect an increase in consumer expenditure this year? Companies such as STMicroelectronics, Cisco, Motorola and Rovi were bullish at the show, especially when referencing the market situation during the second half of 2011. However, with consumers’ confidence in the economy still low and unemployment in the US holding at 8.5% (and perhaps just as important, underemployment at 18%), a return back to a 2007 spending level, or even a 2010 level is unlikely in the short-term. As recently noted by the IMF, even without the shocks of one-time events such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, flooding in Thailand or oil supply fluctuations, 2012 will need to see a shift from government stimulus to private demand, along with the advanced economies replacing some of the drop in domestic sales with an increase in foreign demand, including emerging markets. Unfortunately, the increased financial uncertainty of banks holding sovereign debt from many of these advanced economies is not aiding in this transition.

Despite this lingering cloud of uncertainty, IMS Research does expect shipments of consumer devices to show a moderate increase during 2012.  We currently forecast growth for the top ten CE product categories (including Blu-ray players, digital cameras, games consoles, STBs and TVs among others) at 3.6% compared to 2011. Progress with the Doha Round, recovery of activity in Japan and lower oil and food prices could increase this growth even more.  Some of the interesting developments in the pay-TV world that will facilitate growth are described in more detail by other analysts in our January newsletter. These include remote UIs enabling advanced services to legacy STBs, wireless video delivery, connected TV strategies, cloud content lockers, content security and the hype of multiscreen video delivery finally becoming a reality. Not to mention the continued proliferation of on-demand content, such as Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 on-demand offering, which was named TV Innovator of the Year at the IMS Research 2012 TV Innovations Award ceremony and reception. The IMS Research reception was held at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas on the eve of CES. If you missed it, be sure to RSVP for next year’s CES event, our conferences group will have details on the next event soon.