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issue: January 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Consumer Electronics Association
Digital Challenges, Digital Growth

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by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

The consumer electronics industry is a global juggernaut—known for innovative R&D, design, software development, efficient production, and creative marketing. From the largest plasma TV to the hippest multimedia phone to the tiniest digital memory card, consumers worldwide love our products.

Market research conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) shows that in 1975 the average American family spent $84 per household on CE purchases. That CE expenditure soared to more than $1,200 per household in 2005. Today we are a prosperous $135 billion-plus industry with products that entertain, connect and inform consumers.
Consumers have become content creators shifting the power from conglomerates to the individual. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found about 21 million or 87 percent of kids ages 12-17 use the Internet. Further, 57 percent of these teens have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories, or videos online, or remixed online content into their own new creations—they are the new content creators.
They create, manipulate and distribute content anywhere—something that was not possible a few years ago. New products and services are being developed to let consumers be truly mobile, leading to new business opportunities and partnerships. The mobile Internet is the new frontier.

Growing the Industry

Although CEA is best known as the producers of the International CES, the world’s largest technology show, CEA works to grow the industry all year. Our members’ technologies are changing the world, creating better, smaller and faster products with new services and features. CEA represents more than 2,100 member companies involved in all aspects of consumer technology, from manufacturing to retailing, from audio and video to wireless and home networking. CEA sets standards, creates market research, focuses on public policy and educates and promotes the CE industry.
Although the industry continues to grow, challenges remain, such as content protection, product recycling and broadband availability. And our industry relies heavily on new technology launches to sustain growth. What’s more, consolidation, confusion in the market and commoditization challenge the industry.
New business models can help to boost profits as competition intensifies, and we must create products that simplify consumer’s lives. We also are challenged by the need to strike a balance between protecting intellectual property while preserving fair use and home recording rights. To preserve that balance, CEA works with the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) to ensure that the shift to digital content does not take away consumers’ established fair use rights.

Technology Shines at CES

The International CES is the technology highlight of the year with 2,700 exhibitors showing their wares to 140,000 attendees. This year, CEA celebrates the 40th anniversary of CES. The first show took place in New York City in 1967 with 110 exhibitors and 17,500 attendees. It was during this show that the first solid-state TV was introduced, and exhibitors showed the latest in transistor radios, stereos and small-screen black-and-white TVs.
CES continues to be the launch pad for new products. Some of the new products that have debuted at the show include the VCR (1970), the compact disc player (1981), the camcorder (1981), the DVD (1996), HDTV (1998), the PVR (1999), Microsoft Xbox (2001), plasma TV (2001), home media server (2002), HD radio (2003), and IPTV (2005). Today the average U.S. household has 26 CE products—up from 1.3 when the show first started.
What’s more, CES leads the best educational program in the industry to help companies expand their businesses and understand new technology. Keynote CES presentations feature executives from the world’s largest and most successful companies. With more than 175 conference sessions and 250 expert speakers, attendees learn about the latest products and technologies. The International CES conference program also offers installer certification and training in mobile electronics, home theater, home networking and satellite, and retailer certification and training in wireless.  
I invite you to come see the best consumer technology has to offer at the International CES on Jan. 8-11, 2007. Build new business relationships. Meet, network and conduct business with industry leaders. I look forward to seeing you at CES! 


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