The development of digital computers and their advancement into households from the 1990s, when personal computers became widely available, contributed to the growth of the modern CE market. Today’s electronic devices are not only more technologically advanced than those from 50 years ago, but also cheaper, more widely available and more diverse. Some of the products which are now included in the category of consumer electronics are: computers, laptops, smart phones, TV sets, tablets, game consoles, speakers and headphones, wearables, digital cameras, and VR & AR devices.
The television segment of the CE market reached unit shipments of 214 million in 2019. With the advancement of technologies, high-resolution TVs such as 4K and 8K TVs are becoming more and more popular, as are smart TVs with integrated internet features. On the smaller-screen front, tablet shipments reached 144.1 million units in 2019 - a downward development since the peak of 230.1 million in 2014. As the largest consumer electronics sector, smartphone sales showed no sign of slowing down, amounting to 522 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, with forecasts suggesting shipments to reach 1.46 billion units in 2023. Wearable devices, which include fitness trackers, smart watches and hearables, are the relative newcomer to the CE market and have embraced great consumer enthusiasm in recent years. The overall wearable market is projected to ship around 453 million units by 2022, a more than threefold increase over 2017. Sales of other devices like gaming consoles and VR/AR headsets are growing strongly as well, as consumers are ever going after new and exciting experiences, whereas digital cameras are undergoing a sustained market decline.
Ever evolving, the consumer electronics industry is continually growing and one of the largest in the world. In the United States alone, the market value of consumer electronics in 2020 was projected to reach 422 billion U.S. dollars, while global revenue is expected to continue exceeding one trillion euros in 2019. Tech giants Apple and Samsung are leaders in the market. Apple's signature product the iPhone is the company's most profitable product, whose sales accounted for more than half of Apple's total revenue. Apple is also the largest vendor of tablet computers thanks to the iPad, and with its Apple Watch, it is also the market leader in the wearable market. Samsung Electronics is the world's largest manufacturer of consumer electronics and is the market leader in the smartphone and TV market. Samsung's Galaxy Note series pioneered the phablet market, which is becoming the mainstream of smartphone models. As a major manufacturer of electronics components such as semiconductors and image sensors, Samsung is also a provider for other CE companies including Apple and Sony. Other strong contenders in the CE market include Sony, Panasonic and LG Electronics.
The consumer electronics market has been hit hard by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic broke out in China – the heart of consumer electronics production. As China took strong measures to contain the virus, domestic production came to a halt for almost two months, putting a near complete stop to the upper end of the supply chain. The impact is clearly visible: 37.4 million fewer smartphones were shipped in February 2020 compared to the year before, making it the single largest year-on-year drop in the market’s history; PC shipments are forecast to decline by nine percent in 2020, in comparison to the projected 6.8 percent decline rate made before the outbreak; the wearable market is projected to grow by only 9.4 percent in 2020, when in 2019 the market nearly doubled itself. As the rampant coronavirus made its way to Europe, the United States and the rest of the world, the global economy is going to suffer a recession the scale of which no one can yet tell. How the consumer electronics market will fare is also unknown at this moment, although it is almost certain that decline or compromised growth is inevitable. For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Fact and Figures page.