NPD: Apple dominated consumer electronics sales in 2011

The NPD Group has a report out Monday that says consumer electronics sales in 2011 saw basically zero growth over the previous year. Yes, Amazon(s AMZN) sold a lot of Kindles, Samsung shipped a lot of phones and Apple(s aapl) sold as many iPhones and iPads as it could, but still, in the U.S. sales of all consumer gadgets hit just $144 billion last year. That’s actually a half percent dip in sales when compared to 2010. But last year’s results weren’t terrible news for all CE companies. There is one that’s doing pretty well in the U.S.

Apple(s AAPL) was the only brand in the top five in the U.S. to see an increase in sales, which was 36 percent more than the company’s U.S. sales in 2010. And in the fourth quarter — which you may remember was Apple’s biggest quarter in the history of the company — Apple “accounted for 19 percent of all sales dollars” of consumer gadgets sold, according to the NPD report. Or, for comparison, twice as many in that quarter as the world’s largest PC maker, Hewlett-Packard(s HPQ).

The report goes on to say that there are fewer and fewer categories of devices that U.S. consumers are spending their money on. And part of what’s working in Apple’s favor is that Apple makes products in most of those select categories:

  • NPD says 60 percent of consumer electronics sales last year were PCs, TVs, tablets or e-readers, phones or video game hardware. Apple is a leading brand name in three of those categories, and you could say they operate in another (video game hardware) if you wanted to be a bit liberal with how you categorize the iPod touch or iPhone, which are used to play a lot of games.
  • Specifically, the tablet/e-reader category saw the best growth during 2011, with sales doubling to $15 billion. As we know from previous reports, Apple is a main reason those sales doubled — the iPad, which sold 40 million units in 2011, accounted for nearly 60 percent of all tablet sales last year.

So are consumers being more narrow about the types of gadgets they’re interested in purchasing? Or are the smartphones with 8 megapixel cameras and video games, tablets with productivity apps and video streaming reducing our need for additional devices? Perhaps both. Either way, Apple — with its obsessive tendency to focus on only a few products — is reaping the benefits.

Image source: Flickr user edvvc