Connected devices sales set to soar

Shipments of internet-enabled consumer electronics devices will soar to exceed those of the traditional platform used for accessing the internet (the PC) for the first time in 2013, according to a new IHS iSuppli consumer platforms report.

Shipments of connected consumer electronics devices, a category including a wide range of products — from televisions to video game consoles, to Blu-ray players- will surge to 503.6 million units in 2013, up from 161 million in 2010. In comparison, PC shipments during the same period will amount to 253.3 million, up from 222.3 million.

In 2015, shipments of such consumer devices will breach three-quarters of a billion units, at 780.8 million units, massively exceeding PC shipments of 479.1 million.

“These new figures are the latest evidence that the internet is not just for PCs anymore,” said Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for consumer platforms at IHS, in a statement. “The internet now is revolutionizing the consumer electronics business by delivering a range of products that can bring web-based content to homes. Increasingly, each internet-enabled consumer electronics device is vying to become the centre of what is known as the digital living room, aggregating content throughout the home and serving up movies, television programmes, videos and music. In the future, consumers will be more likely to access the Internet through their televisions than via their PCs.”

Although IHS officially designates tablets as wireless devices, they are being included in the internet-enabled consumer electronics category because of the key role they are playing in the market for the connected home.

The 50% rise in the shipments of internet-enabled consumer electronics devices will be led by the media tablet, projected to become the fastest-growing segment within the space and spurred by the massive success of Apple Inc.’s iPad.

This year, internet-enabled consumer electronics device shipments are anticipated to reach 241.2 million units, up from 161.0 million units last year and 108.3 million units in 2009. After the 49% increase in 2009 and this year’s growth, the market’s expected expansion in 2012 of another 50% will mean three straight years of improvement at this magnitude.

The top internet-enabled devices last year were game consoles, with shipments of 50.5 million units; and televisions, with 40.0 million. However, media tablets are set to grab the top spot in 2011 with projected shipments of 61.9 million, up a thunderous 214% from 19.7 million last year.

From virtually nonexistent levels just two years ago, media tablets will ship more than 300 million units by 2015, 15 times greater than in 2010, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 73.3%. No other internet-enabled device in the next four years will come close to that kind of growth.

In particular, the media tablet appears to be the device that will pull customers into the era of the digitally connected home. It allows users to enjoy media—and not just content stored locally on the device or for viewing on the included display. With the right hardware, for example, consumers also can push music from an iPad to an audio system, or drive video to a large-screen display. And with other vendors beginning to support Apple’s proprietary AirPlay standard, the media tablet will be one of the first devices to fully integrate into the connected home, IHS believes.

Aside from the media tablet, other internet-enabled devices that will grow rapidly in the years to come are Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.

In the case of Blu-ray players, expansion in the segment will be driven by the growing uptake of high-definition displays as well as the mandatory adoption of internet capability. After media tablets, Blu-ray players will have the second-highest compound annual growth rate at 37.9%.

For their part, set-top boxes offer features that cannot be duplicated by other systems—such as obtaining content from multiple sources like video on demand or “catch up” television, in addition to the content already available from cable or satellite providers—likely making the device a long-term, high-value fixture.