Owning Innovation: CEA Study Shows Major Shifts in the Technology We Own
A major shift in the consumer electronics (CE) products owned by U.S. households is now underway, according to the 17th Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). 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.
“A strong consumer appetite for mobile connected devices is causing some very interesting changes in the CE ownership landscape,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research at CEA. “These mobile devices have greatly influenced the type of content Americans consume, and given birth to new emerging tech categories such as wearable activity trackers and smart home devices that consumers are beginning to embrace more broadly.”
Most Owned CE Products
The top 10 most-commonly owned CE products shifted dramatically in 2015. Smartphones are now owned in 72 percent of U.S. households – an eight percentage point jump in the last year – trailing only televisions, which are owned in almost every home in the country (97 percent), and DVD/Blu-ray players (78 percent). Tablets, now owned by more than half of American households, saw the largest increase in ownership growth over last year, jumping nine percentage points to reach 54 percent 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 two-thirds of households (67 percent). Headphones also saw a large gain in ownership (59 percent, up five percentage points), 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 percent household penetration and out of the top 10 most-owned CE product list for the first time.
Fastest-Growing CE Products
In addition to tablets (an increase of nine percentage points) and smartphones (an increase of eight percentage points), the fastest-growing CE products in household penetration came from wearable fitness trackers (increasing six percentage points to reach 11 percent ownership), digital media streaming devices such as Apple TV or Roku (increasing five percentage points to 29 percent ownership) and in-vehicle communication devices such as navigation, back-up cameras and hands-free calling (increasing four percentage points to 34 percent ownership).
Traditional vs. Digital Content
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 percent) remained stagnant over a four year average, while digital content (63 percent) increased by 10 percentage points from 2014. CEA projects that ownership of digital content will catch up with traditional content by 2018.
The growth in digital content consumption is heavily influenced by the adoption of streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon, which saw a six percent increase in subscriptions this year to reach 40 percent.
Wearable activity fitness trackers saw substantial growth in ownership, increasing to 11 percent 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 percent household. Five percent of U.S. consumers now own a smart watch, and six percent of households plan to buy one over the next year.
“We are at an important inflection point as consumer demand for emerging technologies accelerates,” said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CEA and author of the New York Times best-seller Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. “While the emerging product categories are owned by less than five percent of the American population, these categories are expected to make significant contributions to the CE industry bottom line in 2015 and redefine the course of technological innovation moving forward.”
The 17th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry, to evaluate the degree of ownership (household penetration) and purchase intent of CE devices and technologies among U.S. households. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The complete study is available for free for CEA member companies at members.CE.org. Non-members may purchase the study for $1,200 at the CEA Store.