Technology And Innovation Causing Shift in Consumer Electronics Ownership

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, CE Ownership and Market Potential Study, a major shift in the consumer electronics products owned by U.S. households is now underway. Smartphones are now the third most-owned CE product in the country, trailing only televisions and DVD/Blu-ray players, a key reason why ownership of digital content is now poised to surpass traditional content within the next few years. 

Steve Koenig, senior director, market research at CEA, says “… strong consumer appetite for mobile connected devices…  causing very interesting changes in… CE ownership… these mobile devices… (have) given birth to new emerging tech categories… wearable activity trackers and smart home devices… “

The top 10 most-commonly owned CE products shifted dramatically in 2015, says the report. Smartphones are now owned in 72% of U.S. households, an eight point jump in the last year, trailing only televisions, which are owned in almost every home in the country (97%), and DVD/Blu-ray players (78%). Tablets, now owned by more than half of American households, saw the largest increase in ownership growth over last year, jumping nine points to reach 54% ownership, and for the first time joining the list of top 10 most owned tech products.

Laptop ownership experienced the second largest gain in household penetration, reaching 67% of households. Headphones also saw a large gain in ownership, moving up one spot to seventh on the list of most- owned CE devices, from second in 2014. Basic cell phones saw the largest decrease of any CE product, dropping under 50% household penetration and out of the top 10 most-owned CE product list. 

Fastest-Growing Consumer Electronics Products, by Household Adoption (% HH Penetration 2014-2015)


HH Penetration

Electronic Product



%Point Change




+9 Points





Wearable fitness trackers




Digital media streaming device




In-vehicle communication device




Source: CEA, May 2015

In addition to tablets and smartphones, the fastest-growing CE products in household penetration came from wearable fitness trackers, digital media streaming devices such as Apple TV or Roku, and in-vehicle communication devices such as navigation, back-up cameras and hands-free calling.

The growth in digital content consumption is heavily influenced by the adoption of streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon, which saw a 6% increase in subscriptions this year to reach 40%.

The proliferation of mobile connected devices is driving the rapidly increasing adoption of digital content (apps, digital music, electronic books, digital movies and shows, and digital video games), at the expense of traditional content (paper/hardcover books, DVD/Blu-ray discs, music CDs and video games on discs). This year, traditional content (79%) remained stagnant over a four year average, while digital content (63%) increased by ten points from 2014. The report projects that ownership of digital content will catch up with traditional content by 2018.

 Wearable activity fitness trackers saw substantial growth in ownership, increasing to 11% of households in 2015, more than double the number of households who owned the technology last year. Smart home device ownership (smart thermostats, lighting controls, motion sensors, etc.) is now at 12% household. 5% of U.S. consumers now own a smart watch, and 6% of households plan to buy one over the next year, says the report.

 Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CEA and author of the New York Times best-seller Digital Destiny, says that “… as consumer demand for emerging technologies accelerates… the emerging product categories are… expected to make significant contributions to the CE industry bottom line in 2015… and redefine the course of technological innovation moving forward… ”

For additional information from the Consumer Electronics Association, please visit here.



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