LAS VEGAS--After calling 2009 "the most challenging year of our lives," Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro said the industry would begin growing again in 2010.
In the opening address of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Shapiro revealed that overall revenue for the consumer electronics industry dropped for the first time in 20 years, down an estimated 7% in 2009. Sales volume, however, increased nearly 10% for the year -- suggesting that consumers bought products at a value.
The good news, he said, is that things are looking up. The industry association expects consumer electronics will generate more than $165 billion in shipment revenues -- up slightly from 2009, although still down from 2008.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is the bright light of innovation," said Shapiro. "The future is bright because of who we are. We are innovators. We are seeing more innovation at this show than at any show in our history."
Leading the way will be wireless handsets, which the CEA predicted will have a banner 2010 thanks to smartphones -- expected to generate nearly $17 billion in shipment revenue and more than 52 million unit sales in the company year. Smartphones will comprise about a third of all total wireless shipments.
"The CEA predicts that in 2010, wireless phones will surpass televisions as the single largest consumer electronics product category for the first time," Shapiro said. However, unit sales for televisions will still increase (to an estimated 37 million in 2010) as consumers continue to switch to high-definition, flat-panel sets, but price drops will force revenues down to $22 billion.
Computer sales will also increase, thanks to the popularity of netbooks, according to the CEA. Netbook sales more than doubled in 2009. What's more, the association projects that more than 30 million notebook computers will sell in 2010, generating more than $14 billion in revenue.
Blu-ray disc players, a bright spot in 2009 (with sales rising 155% for the year), will continue the trend in 2010, with unit sales projected to top 11.5 million and revenues to increase to $1.4 billion.