Video Hot, Audio Not

During the recent, successful Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicted that manufacturer-to-dealer sales of consumer electronics products will total a record $101 billion in 2004—a 5% increase over 2003.

These numbers, revised upward from the CEA's pronouncements four months ago, were issued as part of CEA Market Research's semi-annual US Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts report. The forecast also reflects optimism that the industry will finally top the important $100 billion milestone that it was aiming for in 2003.

Speaking of 2003, the CEA has also revealed that estimated year-end sales last year totaled $96.3 billion, a modest increase of 2% over 2002 figures. It should be noted that the 2003 estimate for year-end sales exceeds the previous forecasts the CEA released in July and October 2003.

It's no surprise that heavy gains are expected in the video category, with total sales of digital television (DTV) products accounting for $6.1 billion of industry revenues in 2003 on nearly four million units, representing an increase in dollar sales of 44% and a unit increase of 56% over 2002 figures. The CEA attributes the tremendous growth in sales of DTV products to new display technologies, with sales of plasma televisions estimated to reach nearly $1.5 billion in revenues for 2003, up from $515 million just one year ago. LCD television sales during 2003 will total $651 million, compared to $246 million in 2002. In 2004, the CEA projects another banner year for DTV product sales, with total shipments of more than 5.7 million units on dollar sales of $8 billion. Sales of plasma displays are expected to generate $2.2 billion in 2004 and revenues on LCD displays are projected to increase to more than $1 billion.

In contrast, the CEA says that the audio category is facing declines across several product categories, while benefiting from rapid consumer adoption of digital products. "MP3 players shot past all estimates for a record-setting year in 2003, despite continuing debates over home recording rights," notes the trade group. The CEA says factory-to-dealer shipments of MP3 players totaled 3.8 million units during 2003, an increase of 121% compared to 2002, and are expected to rise again in 2004 to more than 5.1 million units. Dollar revenues on MP3 players for 2003 leapt to $556 million, a 171% increase over 2002. The CEA projects dollar revenues on MP3 players to increase another 27% to $706 million for 2004.

Also of note: sales of stand-alone DVD players continued to maintain the category's position as the fastest selling technology of all time during 2003, with factory-to-dealer shipments of some 22.1 million units on dollar sales of more than $3 billion for the year, up from 17 million units and $2.4 billion in revenues during 2002. Currently, 50% of US households own at least one DVD player—a figure that is expected to increase in 2004, as the CEA projects DVD player unit sales to reach more than 23.8 million units by the year's end.