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Slowdown becomes boon for consumer electronics

Posted: 05 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:macroeconomic pressure? economic slowdown? consumer electronics?

Amid today's unpredictable economy and soaring fuel costs, consumers appear to be staying closer to home. While tighter budgets may be affecting the travel and tourism businesses, consumers are continuing to purchase electronics for the home and personal use, as many families are likely more inclined to take "staycations" rather than vacations.

"This is music to the ears of consumer electronics vendors, which are eyeing a goldmine of opportunity to push their products to families and those looking to stay at home," said Sheri Greenspan, senior analyst, consumer electronics, for iSuppli Corp.

"Thanks to falling prices, a U.S. government mandate for broadcasters to switch to digital, and retailer incentives, the DTV market is booming."

Gaming is also thriving, with record sales for software titles and accessories driving a renewed interest among consumers for video game consoles. Video game consoles also are experiencing an uptick in OEM factory ASPsone of the few segments of the consumer electronics business seeing this trend.

DTV plugs in
Although many consumers may not understand what high-definition (HD) really is from a technical perspective, they definitely know that they want it. DTV factory shipments are expected to grow to 252.7 million units by 2012, rising at a CAGR of 16.5 percent from 117.7 million units in 2007.

Although the Summer Olympic Games' impact on TV sales fell short of expectations this year, global DTV shipments this year will rise by 18.1 percent to hit 138.97 million units, up from last year's 117.7 million units.

Figure 1 presents iSuppli's unit OEM factory shipment forecast for global DTVincluding LCD-TVs, plasma display panel-TVs (PDP-TVs), rear projection TVs (RPTVs) and digital CRT-TVsfor the period of 2007 through 2012.

Factors that are encouraging the switch to DTV include:

? Declining prices for flat-panel TVs across the board

? The analog TV broadcast shut-off occurring in the United States in 2009 and later in the rest of the world

? Better picture quality

? More HD content becoming available in the form of Blu-ray DVD and HD Video on Demand (VOD)

? The flat-panel form factor, which is more appealing and generates more interest among consumers

? Excitement about having the "in" thing in their living room.

On the semiconductor side, iSuppli forecasts that the DTV segment will nearly double by 2012 to hit $14.4 billion in revenue, managing a CAGR of 11.4 percent from $8.4 billion in 2007. Logic application-specific ICs will represent the largest share of these DTV semiconductors, rising to $4.5 billion in 2012, up from $3 billion in 2007.

Game face
The video game console market continues to boom despite the economic slowdown in the United States and worldwide. Game-console OEM factory revenue grew by an impressive 85 percent from 2006 to 2007. In Q1 08, revenue grew 19 percent compared to Q1 07. iSuppli expects video game console factory shipments to increase to 61.5 million units by 2012, rising at a CAGR of 4.8 percent from 48.7 million units in 2007.

This figure shows iSuppli's unit OEM factory shipment forecast for global DTV from 2007 to 2012.

The Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360 are experiencing a growth spurt due to enhanced software lineups with blockbuster title releases such as Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto IV and the "Wii Fit," to name a few. Another trend for the Xbox 360 and PS3 is upgrading the storage, as the PS3 and Xbox increase their hard disk drives to capacities of 80Gbyte and 120Gbyte, respectively.

iSuppli anticipates additional revision launches offering increased disk space late this year, driving PS3 demand this holiday season and resulting in price reductions for previous models. The Wii continues to dominate the gaming console market with its mass-market appeal, motion-censored controllers, low price and innovative titles. The console has proved the allure of game consoles not just for children, but for the whole family, as illustrated by the Wii Fit upon its release targeting the casual gamer.

Going forward, the PlayStation 3's Blu-ray player is likely to help propel its sales. Sony will do more to increase the adoption of the PS3 by introducing creative marketing strategies, such as bundling software, online services and accessories together in order to maintain pricing and to boost adoption by new users.

Meanwhile, Microsoft slashed the price of its Xbox 360 by $50 earlier this year in order to help stimulate growth and to stave off any advance from the PS3.

iSuppli predicts all these moves are likely to have a huge impact on the video game market over the next few years. However, when the next generation of consoles hit the market in the late 2010 to 2011 time frame, the competitive cards will be reshuffled again for Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.

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