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issue: January 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

Association Forecasts - Consumer Electronics Association
Focus On CE

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by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association

At the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), our mission is simple - to grow the consumer electronics industry. We are much more than the producers of the world's largest and greatest consumer technology event - the International CES. With more than 110,000 technology professionals from more than 100 countries, the International CES truly is the world's gathering place for consumer technology. But CEA also works on behalf of the industry 365 days a year, from industry promotions, to standards activities, to training, to promoting the industry's policy agenda.

As one of the U.S.'s 20 largest associations, CEA carries the flag in Washington, DC, U.S. and has helped create consumer markets for HDTV, satellite radio, wireless products, and many other emerging product categories. We have seen remarkable growth in the past decade with a 20-fold increase in our membership.

CEA's growth reflects the consumer electronics (CE) industry. Total sales of consumer electronics products should reach U.S. $95 billion in 2003 with future sales growth expected in 2004. The range of CE products has flourished during the past several years due to digital and wireless technology, portable multimedia devices, and of course, the impact of the Internet. Bigger, better, flatter screens, amazingly sharp HD pictures, multi-channel surround sound, real-time information, and connectivity in a networked world, all allow consumers to stay connected, informed, educated, and entertained.

Our industry has created brand new product categories, launched innovative products, invented countless new features, and even reinvented how products are sold. Along the way, the industry has highlighted needs that consumers didn't even know they had. A typical family will spend $1,050 this year on CE gear, plus another $1,150 a year on related services. Our future is bright - our products connect people, give them comfort, allow access to news, and provide an entertaining diversion.

Ruts in the Road

However, there are challenges that confront us daily. We face continuing economic uncertainty. We face a public concerned about continued global unrest and terrorism. Further, we face a host of issues unique to the CE industry such as copyright concerns, end-of-life-cycle product recycling, and broadband availability. Our industry needs new-technology introductions to sustain its growth. While HDTV and digital radio are hot, and recordable DVD and Wi-Fi show promise, a new-technology lull could impact total industry sales.

We need to find innovative business solutions to boost profits while competition intensifies, new manufacturers enter the U.S. market, and prices continue to fall.

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 critical balance, CEA continues to work closely with the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC). The HRRC has been protecting the legitimacy of technology and the recording rights of consumers for more than 20 years. Together we fight to ensure that the shift to digital content does not completely overturn consumers' established fair user rights.

Yet challenges create opportunities. The consumer technology market has a solid record of growth, and we have every reason to be optimistic going forward. Despite economic uncertainties, consumers are finding compelling reasons, including rapidly falling prices, to upgrade from analog to new digital products. I remain optimistic about our future.

A Shining Future

Less than 5 years after the introduction of HDTV, we have achieved more than $10 billion in sales. While HDTV sales certainly will continue to grow, on the horizon we see new HDTV-like opportunities. The promise includes prerecorded HDTV, the glory of the next generation of HDTV 1080P, the beauty of flat HDTV in homes and businesses through large LCD, plasma, and newer display technologies providing paper-thin visual displays on walls anywhere.

Visual displays will define our interiors, and sound from multiple speakers will encompass us. Cable, broadcast, satellite, telephone, power line, and prerecorded media all will vie for consumers. Broadband will provide the signal. Wireless will give us access. And consumers will enjoy a plethora of entertainment, security, and information options. They will be connected, informed, interested, and safe.

Our industry has changed the world. We've redefined work and play. We've improved the quality of life for billions. And we'll continue to lead the way in fulfilling consumer needs for even more access to information, entertainment, and education for citizens the world over. We see a bright future with our products everywhere. And we see CEA and the International CES as being at the center of the businesses that will be created.


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