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CTA’s Sales and Forecasts Evolves

At the “CES 2018 Trends to Watch” presentation on January 7, Steve Koenig, senior director of industry analysis and Lesley Rohrbaugh, senior manager of market research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), discussed the impactful trends and disruptive technologies – such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality – that will redefine our industry in 2018.

The presentation also marked the release of the latest edition of CTA’s U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts. This forecast serves as the benchmark for the consumer technology industry, charting the size and growth of underlying categories and the industry as a whole. The U.S. consumer technology industry is forecast to rise to a record-breaking $351 billion in retail revenues in 2018 – 3.9 percent higher than 2017 revenues of $339 billion, according to the report.

For years, CTA has charted the industry with this bi-annual report. But as our industry evolves, so must the forecast. This edition, CTA has made some important changes to the report. For the first time, CTA included subscription streaming services in its assessment of the industry. Given the shift to streaming music and video services, we felt it was time to begin more closely tracking the rapid growth of this new technology both to capture changes in how consumers are accessing content and to accurately measure the uptake of devices they are using to access these burgeoning services.

Next, the emergence of Amazon Echo and Alexa, alongside Google Home and other connected "smart" speakers mark another significant trend. The industry had seen speakers that were Wi-Fi connected and speakers that could stream internet radio, but these abilities did not prompt the industry (nor consumers) to attribute any notion of intelligence to speakers. A new level of intelligence has enabled speakers to be widely considered smart: the voice of a digital assistant.

The case of smart speakers reflects a broader trend in the consumer technology industry. It is not enough for products to be merely connected to the internet or home network. Consumers are looking for intelligence in their devices, and they are seeking simple ways to manage and interact with the numerous connected products in their lives.

Collectively, the latest innovations in consumer technology make an impressive impact on the industry's bottom line. Smart speakers were the top new category in revenue and growth impact in 2017, and are forecast to remain the top new category in 2018, when they will generate $3.8 billion in revenues. The January 2018 report also covers emerging technologies such as sports technology, smart door locks, smart doorbells and smart light bulbs. The full report, available free to CTA members, is available at

Mark Chisholm, Consumer Technology Association