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CES 2014: China Holds the Power in Consumer Electronics Spending

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The inevitable switch of consumer technology spending power is finally acknowledged to have moved in favor of China and out of the hands of North America, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

"The shift in the balance of power is underway and set to continue," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the CEA. "China has sheer strength in numbers. It has 160+ cities with a population over 1 million. The U.S. has nine. That is a huge difference. When China's population of 1.2 billion start to buy technology en masse away from these urban centres, it will have a massive impact on the balance of power."

"Has North America's market share peaked? Yes it has," he said. North America's share of global spend on consumer electronics (CE) gear stands at 24% and developed Asia (i.e China) currently at 9%. "The deal is sealed, and the U.S. will have to settle for number two position for some time to come."

However, the buying power of China and so-called emerging markets like Brazil and India is helping the global tech market back into growth.

The CEA put a figure on $1.068 billion on the global value of the CE market in 2013, up from $1.034 billion in 2012 and a low of $922 million in 2010. There will be a 1% dip in spending in 2014 (to $1.055 billion) due to the demand for volumes of lower cost tablets and smartphones in emerging regions, the CEA said.

"The industry is waiting for the next wave of innovation," said Koenig. "This could be from wearable computing, 3D printing, or the greater connectivity of devices."

On 3D it is worth noting that while CEA's chief economist Shawn DuBravac suggested that its growth curve "looked good"—with close to 100% growth in the U.S. last year mainly because people were buying the technology as default in new TVs—Koenig added that "3D TV growth was tapering off" and that a lot of vendors were "not pressing" the market.

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