apple iwatchU.S. consumer technology revenues will rise 1.3%, to $286.6 billion retail and $224 billion wholesale in 2016, according to a consumer tech forecast from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Growing uptake of Internet of Things (IoT) technology and consumer enthusiasm for new electronics devices will fuel the rise, CTA highlights in a press release.

The five largest categories of consumer tech products – smartphones, tablets, LCD television sets, laptop and desktop computers – will drive most of this year’s gain, accounting for 51%, or $114 billion, of 2016 consumer tech product revenues, according to CTA’s ¨U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts.¨

“We’re in the midst of a critical transition period, as more IoT products offer the anytime/anywhere access and seamless experiences that today’s consumers want and need,” said CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro in a press release about the consumer tech forecast.

“This is a pivotal point in consumer technology history, as emerging tech categories – virtual reality, voice-controlled digital assistants, drones – push the entire industry forward. And the value of these innovations goes far beyond entertainment – today’s technology is changing our lives for the better.”

Consumer Tech Forecast
Among emerging consumer tech categories, 2016 will be a banner year for 4K UHD, according to the CTA consumer tech forecast.The introduction of new, next-generation technology, such as HDR and 4K UHD Blu-ray players, will help spur 4K UHD shipments to 15 million units, 105% higher than 2015’s level. UHD TV market revenues will rise 69% to reach $12.9 billion, the association said.

Consumer Tech Forecast

In addition to 4K UHD TV, CTA highlights the following among its expectations among emerging consumer tech product categories:

  • Wearables: Driven by the popularity of fitness activity trackers, unit sales of all wearables in 2016 are forecast to reach almost 48 million units (a 39 percent increase). Fitness activity tracker volumes will hit 28 million units in 2016 – a 60 percent increase from 2015 – with revenues reaching $2.2 billion. That’s a 62 percent increase. After a year of strong growth, smartwatch unit growth is slowing, while revenue will decline for the first time. Units are expected to increase 15 percent to 12.2 million units, earning $2.8 billion in revenue, a decline of eight percent.
  • Smart Home: CTA projects the smart home category – including smart thermostats, smart smoke and CO2 detectors, IP/Wi-Fi cameras, smart locks, smart home systems, and smart switches, dimmers and outlets – to reach 9.5 million units sold in 2016 (a 29 percent increase). Revenue will grow to $1.3 billion (a 24 percent jump).
  • Drones: Drone sales are expected to reach record heights, topping 2.4 million units (up 112 percent from 2015) and $799 million in shipment revenues (an 80 percent increase from 2015). CTA’s forecast also delineates expected U.S. drone sales for units below and above 250 grams, the FAA’s threshold for mandatory drone registration, expected to reach 1.6 million units (below 250 grams) and 825,000 units (above 250 grams).
  • Virtual Reality (VR): With several global tech leaders introducing VR headsets to the consumer market in 2016, CTA expects this to be the tech sector’s overwhelming leader in year-to-year growth. Unit sales will increase by 296 percent over last year, reaching 800,000 units sold. Total revenues are projected to reach $432 million, a 332 percent increase this year.
  • Digital Assistant Devices: This is the first year the semi-annual CTA report has included projections for voice-activated devices that provide a cloud-based artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Echo. Sales are projected to reach 2.2 million units (up 32 percent) in 2016 and earn $392 million in revenue (increasing 32 percent).
  • 3D Printing: Ever-expanding 3D printing capabilities will drive the sector’s unit sales growth to increase 56 percent from last year, to reach 171,000 units sold. Total revenues will reach $148 million, a 35 percent increase.

Maturing Sales Leaders
The CTA consumer tech forecast also looks at maturing consumer tech:

  • Smartphones: CTA projects unit shipments to reach 183 million in 2016 (up five percent), while revenues will reach $55 billion (a four percent increase). As tremendous innovations in smartphone hardware over the past few years have lengthened the replacement cycle, 2017 will be the first year smartphones see a slight decline in unit sales and revenue.
  • Televisions: The TV market will remain on par with 2015, with unit sales estimated to reach 39.7 million units in 2016 (down one percent) and revenues expected to reach $20 billion (a three percent increase). LCD TVs, the category leader, will contribute 38.8 million units (a one percent decline) and $19.2 billion (two percent growth). Key areas of growth are large screen sizes, 4K UHD and smart TV displays.
  • Tablets: After momentous growth and widespread adoption over the past five years, tablet sales will decline again in 2016. CTA expects sales of 65 million units in 2016, a two percent decrease, and revenues of $19 billion, down five percent.
  • Laptops: Unit shipments of laptops are expected to reach 25 million units in 2016, a six percent decrease. Revenues are expected to reach $15.8 billion, an eight percent drop.
  • Desktops: Amid an accelerated decline, desktop computers are projected to sell seven million units (13 percent decrease), earning $4.6 billion in revenue (a 15 percent decrease).

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