As mobile and TV sales stall, tech industry will rely on drones and VR

PCs and other computing tech continue to decline, according to a new batch of numbers.

CTA prediction mobile and TV sales stall drones VR

Tablets, televisions, PCs and laptops will see slowed growth in household penetration in 2016, says the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). That's the organization that operates CES, the annual technology show that just wrapped up in Las Vegas last week.

CTA published numbers semi-annually and reflects U.S. factory sales to dealers.

New genres driving growth

Growth will now come from new genres of tech, such as wearables, Virtual Reality (VR) and drones, CTA says.

For example, the much-anticipated immersive VR device Oculus Rift recently announced pre-orders, with first shipments expected at the end of March, according to the manufacturer.

Drones, too, are expected to be a big seller in 2016. The Federal Aviation Administration, the organization responsible for managing the registration of the devices, estimated 1 million drone sales over the recent holiday season, Aviation Week reported.


Forget older tech. Retail growth will be led by innovation, CTA thinks. And the organization says that IoT will drive the U.S. consumer tech sector to a largest-ever $287 billion in retail revenues, or $224 billion wholesale in 2016, the organization says in a press release.

CTA says that its numbers "serve as a benchmark for the entire tech industry."

Traditional electronics

Things are not as rosy in the traditional electronics space. Legacy products like basic televisions are going to see stalled growth, CTA thinks.

Networked streaming media players and smart TVs will do well, however. Streaming media players will see a 5% uptick in 2016, and smart TVs a 13% increase over last year.

Mobile devices

It's not looking so good for tablets. CTA says they will see a 9% decline this year.

Smartphone shipments will continue their climb, though the CTA predicts growth will be slow, up just 4% from last year to 183 million U.S. shipments in 2016.

Dark clouds are on the horizon for that genre. Global smartphone shipments are forecast to start falling between 2018 and 2019, according to Statista, a statistics aggregator. Statista predicts that worldwide smartphone shipments will drop for the first time in 2018, from an all-time high of 1,873 million global units to 1,862.3 million in 2019.

Still, those totals are a whole lot better than the paltry 173.5 million global units in 2009, a couple years after the introduction of the first iPhone.

Low growth rates

It's the traditional tech that's showing the slowest growth. Classic laptops only show a 2% increase over 2015.

Any serious growth in that area will be in the convertible and detachable screen style of laptop. CTA expects that class of laptop to see a massive 48% growth over last year.

Innovative tech

3D printing is a leader, CTA thinks. It reckons sales will jump 64% from last years' levels, along with a 38% jump in revenues.

Watch out for these newer categories, the report says.

"We are at a time when new tech categories can come out of seemingly nowhere and lead to disruption in the blink of an eye," Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at CTA, said in the press release.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10