Summary:

How big are the tablet and smartphone markets to companies that build them? Bigger than the revenues earned for all other consumer electronics devices combined, says IHS. That’s staggering when just 6 years ago, CE device revenues were 9 times greater.

lots of tablets

Perhaps the Consumer Electronics Association should rename itself because smartphones and tablets now dominate the CE market. Here’s a telling prediction to support that: Global factory revenues for smartphones and tablets this year are forecast by IHS to exceed $354 billion.

The rest of the consumer electronics market? IHS says $344 billion, marking the first time revenues from smartphones and tablets will exceed the remainder of all other CE products.

IHS revealed its historical and forecast data on Friday, which shows amazing growth for tablet and smartphone revenues in a short time. That’s thanks to the fast uptake of both products, particularly since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007 when CE revenues were nearly nine times greater than that of smartphones and tablets. Here’s a graph of the data to illustrate:

ihs ce market

You can see that the market for consumer electronics — IHS includes “televisions, audio equipment, cameras and camcorders, video game consoles and home appliances” to name a few — has generally been flat. In contrast, smartphones first, and later tablets, have enjoyed massive uptake.

Part of the reason is surely the relative “newness” of such devices and the value they provide, as well as the maturing broadband networks that keep our smartphones and tablets connected. But I think there’s something else at play here. Both smartphones and tablets are very personal devices: People want their own. By that I mean, if a family can afford it, each person has or eventually will get their own smartphone. And while one tablet in the house is a good start, every individual will want their own.

The same can’t be said of some other consumer electronics devices. We don’t all have our own coffee makers, toasters or Xbox consoles, for example. But we certainly want our own handsets and slates filled to the gills with all of the apps that make the devices ours. And factories are more than happy to build them for us.

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