New year, new technology

By MICHELLE GROENKE, United Press International   |   Jan. 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM   |   Comments

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Out with the old, in with the new. The 21st century is still young, but it's growing-up fast, technology-wise.

The International CES technology show in Las Vegas kicked-off 2014 with a glimpse of the latest in consumer electronics that will help feed the seemingly insatiable desire consumers have for the next big thing.

With regular consumers now coveting the latest smartphone nearly as much as the traditional early adopters, revenues for the consumer electronics industry are on the rise.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which produces CES, says revenues for the consumer electronics industry are projected to grow 2.4 percent in 2014, reaching a record $208 billion, according to an industry forecast released at the show.

While smartphones will continue to be the sales leader in the industry in 2014, new product categories will drive 65 percent of total industry revenue growth.

"We are at the forefront of a momentous wave of innovation," Consumer Electronics Association President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Shapiro said in his opening remarks. "The incredible growth that emerging product categories such as Ultra HDTV, wearable electronics and 3D printers will experience this year underscores the significant role new technologies play in the total consumer electronics story. "

A survey by Gallup indicates devices thought indispensable a decade ago are quickly becoming obsolete.

Laptops and iPods or MP3 players have seen the greatest growth since 2005 while owning a VCR, desktop computer or basic cellphone is starting to look as old fashioned as rotary-dial telephones and console TVs.

Seventy-three percent of Americans say they have Internet access at home through WiFi or a smartphone with Internet access (62 percent).

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they have cable TV, a service that is showing staying power, despite speculation Internet streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix or Roku will displace it, Gallup said.

Eighty percent said they own DVD or Blu-ray players, making it the most commonly owned electronic device.

The telephone survey of 1,031 adults was conducted Dec. 5-8.

Not surprisingly, there is still something of a technological generation gap, with younger adults -- ages 18 to 29 -- favoring newer technology devices. Gallup said 88 percent of young adults own smartphones, 83 percent have wireless Internet at home and 79 percent have a laptop.

Only 41 percent of younger Americans own VCRs or desktop computers. Basic cellphones, owned by 86 percent of young adults in 2005, are now owned by only 24 percent of 18- to 29 year olds.

Older Americans, ages 65 and older, are more likely to have cable TV and VCRs (74 percent for both) but they aren't completely behind the times. Seventy percent have DVD players and 61 percent own a basic cellphone. Twenty-five percent own smartphones.

Gallup said about half of older Americans have wireless Internet, but only 16 percent have an iPod or MP3 player and just 10 percent own a video game system.

An analysis of the survey data suggests 31 percent of Americans fall into the category of "Super Tech Adopters." On the other end of the spectrum, the survey found 28 percent of Americans fall in the category of "Tech-Averse Olders," who tend to limit themselves to a basic cellphone and DVD player.

In between are the 19 percent of Americans considered "Smartphone Reliants" who love their smartphones but are less inclined to invest in other electronic devices, as well as the "Mature Technophiles," which Gallup described as the 22 percent of Americans who own a variety of home electronics but are less likely to have smartphones.

Gallup said 100 percent of "Super Tech Adopters" own smartphones, compared to 93 percent of "Smartphone Reliants." The "Super Tech Adopters" generally have higher incomes, with 53 percent earning $75,000 or more, compared to 23 percent of the "Smartphone Reliants."

The average age of the two groups is near 40, the survey said.

Topics: Gary Shapiro
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