Demand for consumer technology continues to be on the rise in the US, with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecasting [press release] record-breaking revenues for the industry this year. The drive to stay connected, healthy and entertained during the pandemic has led to predictions of 7.5% annual growth within the industry, with retail sales expected to reach $487 billion in 2021.
This growth includes music and video streaming services, as well as gaming. Audio streaming earnings, which includes music, audiobooks and podcasts, are projected to be 18% higher than last year. And, with an ever-growing list of video streaming services bringing in new subscribers, video streaming revenues are expected to see year-over-year (y-o-y) growth of 15% to reach $43 billion.
On the other hand, gaming services are set to see a slight dip in revenues (2% y-o-y) after seeing a 25% increase in 2020. As for gaming consoles, CTA forecasts 19 million units being sold this year (up 6% y-o-y), resulting in revenues of $6 billion.
The following covers some highlights from CTA’s predictions.
Emerging Consumer Tech
Unit Sales and Growth
Consumers remain enamored with wireless earbuds, with devices such as Apple AirPods and Samsung Galaxy Buds driving growth in sales to 88 million units this year, up 27% over last year.
While the estimated growth in wireless earbuds sales is impressive, the clear front-runner in unit sales growth is that of connected exercise equipment — a new category to CTA’s report. More than 2 million units of connected exercise equipment such as Peloton and MYXfitness are expected to sell this year, an increase of 43%. Along the same lines, some 1.2 million e-bikes (including battery-powered bikes and scooters) are expected to leave the shelves this year, up 15% y-o-y.
Exercise equipment isn’t the only health-related tech seeing unit sales growth this year. Connected health monitoring devices including smart thermometers, pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors are expected to see unit sales increase by 23% (13 million units), while Smartwatches are predicted to see an 8% increase in units sold this year.
In the meantime, the number of virtual reality (VR) hardware units expected to sell in 2021 is estimated to increase by 30% to reach 2.7 million. Estimates put Smart Home device sales at more than 100 million for the year, an increase of 11%. And, for the youngsters or at least young-at-heart, consumer sales of e-toys such as robots and musical instruments will see a lift of 7% in units shipped. Some 4.7 million of the 61 million units are predicted to be in STEM toys (an increase of 19%).
Connected exercise equipment also tops the list of emerging technologies in terms of revenue growth (at least among those listed by CTA in its press release). Earnings are expected to reach $3.9 billion in 2021, up 40%. E-toys will also enjoy double-digit (14%) revenue growth to reach $3.6 billion, as will health and fitness tech — up 12% to reach $13 billion.
Wireless earbuds are expected to bring in $8.7 billion in revenue (up 8%), while earnings from e-bikes are estimated to total $1.9 billion (up 3%).
Maturing Tech Markets
Looking at more mature markets, smartphone sales are expected to reach 154 million units this year (up 10%). The majority of these units are projected to be 5G smartphones models (106 million units). Smartphones sales are expected to result in $73 billion in revenue, with $61 billion of that coming from the sale of 5G models.
Laptop sales are also on the rise, with CTA estimating 76 million units to be sold, up 9% y-o-y, to reach $45 billion.
Overall, unit sales of TVs are predicted to decrease from 47 million units last year to 45 million units in 2021. However, revenue is expected to grow by 5% to reach $24 billion. CTA reports that more than three-quarters of TVs sold this year will be 4K UHD. However, the largest increase in TV sales is expected to be with NextGen TVs. With units sold expected to be close to 6 times that of 2020, revenue is estimated at $3.9 billion, an increase of 425%.
The forecast data can be accessed here.
About the Data: Published twice a year, CTA’s US Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts reports on US factory sales to dealers. The forecast utilizes input from nearly 50 companies across the consumer technologies industry.