CTA's 2020 Forecast: A Decade's Worth of Innovation Lays a Strong Foundation for Industry Growth

Richard Kowalski

The consumer technology industry enters a new decade riding high on several years of growth. The latest edition of the U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts illustrates the power of innovation throughout the industry across a wide variety of products and services.

Collectively, the industry hit a milestone in 2019, sailing to an all-time high of $406 billion in retail value. The coming year looks promising as well, with CTA predicting that the industry will grow 4% to reach $422 billion.

Embedded Tech Driving Sales

Several technologies are currently driving growth in the hardware segment. Manufacturers today are taking full advantage of the potential of embedded technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and sensors, which they are incorporating into practically every device on the market.

5G is on the horizon, offering faster-than-ever internet speeds on mobile devices while also carrying the potential to shake up the fixed broadband market.

Artificial intelligence (AI), with its myriad applications, is providing the brains to everything from our digital assistants to our vehicles.

These technologies, embedded in several key products such as wireless earbuds, health and fitness devices, smart speakers and smart home products, were enough to help the hardware segment maintain slightly positive growth (0.5%) in 2019 and will contribute to 2.3% hardware growth in 2020, rising to $266 billion in wholesale revenues.

The turn of a new decade often prompts reflection on the decade past. Here’s a look at some of the biggest movers in the industry.


Smartphones had a remarkable 10 years, starting off the decade representing about 10% of industry hardware revenue. This year, smartphones are expected to make up 30% of total hardware revenues, making it the single largest revenue generator in the industry.

Approaching market saturation, and ahead of major 5G rollouts, smartphones slipped 3% in 2019. Luckily, 5G handsets will help this category regain 3% in 2020.

Tablets & Laptops

Ten years is enough time to see products emerge and converge. Case in point: tablets. Sales of these mobile devices skyrocketed after hitting the market in 2010. But tablets began losing momentum starting in 2013, as other products borrowed some of their key features.

Smartphones screen sizes grew large enough that some people even called them “phablets.” Meanwhile, laptops — now the most popular among computing devices — have increasingly incorporated touchscreens and convertible keyboards.

Indeed, tablets have left their mark on the industry. With over 37 million units expected to ship in 2020, they prove that they still play an important role in the computing toolkit.

Automotive Tech

Factory-installed automotive technology has also made huge gains in the past decade and promises to demonstrate the amazing capabilities of technology in years ahead.

Car manufacturers have made impressive upgrades that enhance navigation, communication and entertainment in the vehicle, while simultaneously improving safety through advanced driver assistance systems that help prevent accidents.

Moving forward, the automotive industry will be a focal point for the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Software & Services

Companies have learned to fully leverage app-enabled content delivery and are now attracting customers to subscription services in droves.

Video streaming services are beginning to see success in addressing the market for live multichannel content, much of which was limited to traditional pay television up until recently.

Music streaming services continue to pick up millions of subscribers with attractive introductory offers and the promise of comprehensive catalogs.

The video game software industry is also diversifying revenue sources through subscription models, downloadable content and in-game upgrades.

Altogether, the software and services segment will see consumers spending $81 billion in 2020, rising 11% over 2019.

So much more…

The above products account for the largest segments of the industry, but this says nothing of all the new categories that have emerged in the past decade. Smart home, health and fitness, drones and home robots are just a few categories that showed extraordinary growth.


U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts

This report presents a detailed sales and forecast for a large array of tech products.