mobile devicesOwnership of digital content will surpass that of traditional content over the course of the next few years, according to the Consumer Electronics Association’s 17th “Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study. Widespread adoption and use of smartphones are key drivers.

Following TV sets and DVD/Blu-ray players, smartphones are the third most-owned consumer electronics (CE) devices in the U.S., CEA points out in a press release.

The proliferation of mobile connected CE devices is driving big gains in ownership of digital content – apps, digital music, e-books, digital movies, TV shows and video games. Coincidentally, ownership of traditional media – hardcover and paperback books, DVD/Blu-ray video discs, and music and video game CDs – is declining, CEA highlights.

“This year, traditional content (79 percent) remained stagnant over a four-year average, while digital content (63 percent) increased by ten percentage points from 2014,” CEA states.

Streaming Video Subscribership
CEA expects ownership of digital content will equal that for traditional content by 2018. Growth in over-the-top (OTT) streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon, is fueling growth in digital content ownership. OTT streaming subscriber numbers rose six percent year-over-year this year to reach 40 percent household penetration.

The composition of CEA’s top 10 list of most-owned CE devices “shifted dramatically in 2015,” CEA says. U.S. household ownership of smartphones has jumped eight percentage points this year to reach 72 percent. That leaves smartphones behind only TV sets (97 percent) and DVD/Blu-ray disc players (78 percent) as the most-owned CE devices in U.S. homes.

In addition to smartphones, tablet penetration among U.S. households rose to 54 percent. Tablet ownership’s 2015 rise was the largest among CE devices CEA tracks for its annual study, foisting the handheld mobile devices up on to CEA’s top 10 list for the first time.

Laptops posted the second largest gain in U.S. household penetration among CE devices, reaching two-thirds (67 percent).

Wearable fitness trackers are another fast growing CE device category. Eleven percent of U.S. households now own the wearable connected devices, more than double that in 2014.

Household Tech Ownership

The Smart Home
Similarly, household ownership of smart home devices, such as smart thermostats, lighting controls, motion sensors and the like, rose to 12 percent this year. In addition, smart watch ownership rose to five percent, with six percent of U.S. households saying they plan to purchase a smart watch at some point in 2015.

Furthermore, household penetration of digital media streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku, rose five percent to 29 percent ownership. In-vehicle communications devices, such as navigation, back-up cameras and hands-free calling, increased four percent to 34 percent ownership.

Basic cell phone household penetration posted the largest decline, falling below 50 percent household penetration and out of CEA’s top 10 list.

“A strong consumer appetite for mobile connected devices is causing some very interesting changes in the CE ownership landscape,” commented Steve Koenig, CEA senior director, market research. “These mobile devices have greatly influenced the type of content Americans consume, and given birth to new emerging tech categories such as wearable activity trackers and smart home devices that consumers are beginning to embrace more broadly.”

Added Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist and author of the New York Times best-seller “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate”: “We are at an important inflection point as consumer demand for emerging technologies accelerates.

“While the emerging product categories are owned by less than five percent of the American population, these categories are expected to make significant contributions to the CE industry bottom line in 2015 and redefine the course of technological innovation moving forward.”

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