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The Life Expectancy of Electronics

Chris Ely, Consumer Technology Association

The pace of new product releases is a testament to the dynamism and innovativeness inherent in the consumer electronics industry.  One indication of a dynamic and fast-paced industry, complete with a steady stream of new products, is the answer to the question: how long do products last before replacement? And what happens to products once they have reached their life expectancy?

 CEA’s recent CE Product Life Cycle study explores consumer perceptions of product life cycles for several key categories, including flat panel televisions, digital cameras, DVD and Blu-ray players, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, smartphones, cell phones and video game consoles. Here’s some of what we learned:
  • On average, consumers expect most CE products to last approximately five years. However there are differences between products.
  • Flat panel TVs have the longest expected life cycle of any CE product surveyed in the study at 7.4 years.  
  • Conversely, smartphones and feature phones have the shortest life expectancy at 4.7 years.
The study also explores how consumers dispose of unwanted or non-functioning CE products. For example, we find that when CE devices reach the end of their useful life most consumers replace them with the same type of product (i.e., replace a smartphone with another smartphone). Furthermore, the industry’s efforts to promote recycling are clearly working, as most consumers anticipate recycling or finding a second home for the CE devices they stop using.

Check out the recent CE Product Life Cycle study to learn more about consumer perceptions on how long key CE products should last.