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issue: January 2008 APPLIANCE Magazine

Consumer Electronics Association Editorial
Consumer Technology Rocks

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

Global consumers today embrace digital products to access information, education, and entertainment, and to stay connected to work, family, and friends. Technology allows products to be portable, personalized, and interconnected.

Gary Shapiro

Consumers now watch movies and TV programs or listen to music wherever they want with devices like MP3 players, Slingbox, and TiVo To Go. Consumers worldwide can access content anytime and anywhere, spurring even more portable devices and content agreements.

User-generated media, made possible by technology, is shaping world culture as consumers create their own content. The explosion of user-generated videos spawns opportunity for makers of camcorders, particularly new high-resolution high-definition camcorders. Video-enabled cell phones can also see big gains. Using the recording feature and Wi-Fi capability, users can quickly post a video online to the user-generated site of their choice.

What an exciting time to be part of the consumer technology industry. We are breaking records again this year with sales forecast to reach $160 billion in product shipments in 2007. Growth from 2006 to 2007 is forecast at a healthy 8.2%, with another 6.1% predicted for 2008. This rate is in line with the steady long-term historical growth for the consumer electronics (CE) industry. Plus, shipment volumes will hit a staggering $170 billion for 2008.

Video continues to be one of the hottest product categories with total revenues exceeding $31 billion fueled by the transition to high-definition television (HDTV) and the public’s fascination with new digital display technologies. Digital audio, broadband Internet, and home networking also offer promise. Broadband penetration now tops 50% of households, setting the stage for broad adoption of new consumer technologies that can access and leverage the power of the Internet.

Our mission at CEA is simple: to grow the industry. CEA represents 2200 companies that produce and sell the products that consumers value so highly. CEA helps members grow their business through connections, education, exposure, and information. Our members include manufacturers, retailers, installers, content distributors, and representatives of the entire consumer technology value chain.

Educating Consumers

Although the industry is vibrant, challenges exist. For one, consumers often are confused by complex products. To help combat this, CEA offers resources such as myceknowhow.com, Antennaweb, the Connections Guide, techhome.com, mecp.com, and greataudio.com to help consumers. Manufacturers seek design and functional changes to make products simple to use even as they add new features.

Consolidation also is changing the face of retail as warehouse clubs and big-box retailers move into the CE retail space. Here again, education is vital. CEA’s PARA Division and the Small Business Council (SBC) offer workshops and Webcasts that highlight competitive strategies. On the policy front, CEA works in Washington, DC, and in state capitals nationwide to advance industry interests and to protect the rights of consumers to enjoy CE products. CEA believes in the protection of intellectual property while maintaining consumers’ privacy, home recording rights, and the ability to use lawfully acquired media for noncommercial purposes. Visit www.digitalfreedom.org for information on CEA’s Digital Freedom campaign.

Energy conservation, environmental impact, and recycling CE products are our responsibility and are on the agenda in several states, so CEA is urging national standards rather than a patchwork of local regulations. Visit www.mygreenelectronics.org, CEA’s Web site, to help member companies and consumers fit products responsibly into the environment.

And February 17, 2009, marks the analog shutoff and a new era in television and entertainment when all-digital broadcasting begins. CEA will continue to educate consumers through the transition to digital. Check out www.dtvtransition.org for more details on CEA’s DTV campaign.

Free trade remains the cornerstone of our nation and industry’s prosperity. But it is not a given as fearmongers seek to shut our borders. Please join our efforts to protect free trade.

The Power of CES

Each January, the International CES kicks off the new year in the most dazzling way. Expect the 2008 show to host 140,000 attendees and industry professionals from 130 countries. Attendees include manufacturers, retailers, content providers and creators, broadband developers, wireless carriers, cable and satellite TV providers, installers, engineers, corporate buyers, government leaders, financial analysts, and the media.

Preview the hottest 2008 product debuts, check out the Innovations Design and Engineering Honorees showcase, browse cutting-edge TechZones (20 at last count), and network with 2700 leading technology companies on the CES show floor. The show spans 30 product categories including audio, digital content creation and distribution, digital imaging, embedded technology, gaming (digital entertainment), high-performance audio and home theater, video, home networking, in-vehicle technology, and wireless.

What’s more, we host the most high-profile keynotes and industry insiders anywhere. Come see the best that consumer technology has to offer at the International CES on January 7–10, 2008. For more information, visit www.cesweb.org. I look forward to seeing you there! 


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