Holiday outlook healthy for gadgets

Holiday outlook healthy for gadgets

By MAY WONG

The Associated Press
Friday, October 13, 2006; 6:35 PM

Portable music players, cell phones and digital cameras are poised to be in hot demand this holiday season, according to a market survey that also projects a 27 percent boost in spending on electronics gifts.

Digital cameras topped the list as the most popular gizmo consumers intend to give this year, followed by a DVD player or recorder. But for the second year in a row, the most wished-for gadget — among adults and teens — was a portable digital music player.

The Consumer Electronics Association was to announce its annual holiday survey Monday.

With the healthy outlook, the trade group said it expects U.S.
electronics industry revenues to reach $140 billion for all of 2006, up
more than 9 percent from the $128 billion attained in 2005. For the
holiday season, the survey indicates Americans intend to spend about
$22 billion in electronics gifts, compared with $17 billion last year.

"We’re
seeing greater consumer spending across the board and what’s benefiting
in particular is consumer electronics," said Sean Wargo, the
association’s director of industry analysis.

After digital
cameras and DVD devices, the top electronics gifts were a cell phone,
portable music player, a video game system, a portable CD player, a
carrying case for laptops or audio players, a television, a cordless
phone, additional memory for a digital camera, a notebook computer, and
a clock or tabletop radio.

Consumers said they intend to spend
an average $804 per household on all holiday gifts — about a quarter,
or $195, for electronics. But consumers might be underestimating their
electronics spending in responding to the survey.

Apple Computer
Inc.’s best-selling iPod player, the Nano, ranges in price from $150 to
$250. For video games, Nintendo Co.’s upcoming Wii console will cost
$250, while Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE – news).’s PlayStation 3 will be $500
or $600, depending on the model. Though some digital cameras cost about
$150, many mainstream models ring up to twice that or higher.

Buying
just one item could eat up or surpass that $195 figure. Consider also
that households were planning to buy nine items apiece on average, up
from eight last year.

The 28 percent of survey respondents who
said they expected to lower their electronics gifts spending this year
might prove themselves wrong, Wargo said.

In any case, there’s no harm in wishing.

Among
the most-wanted electronics gifts for this holiday season were first,
the mobile music player, followed by a digital camera, computer,
television, video game system, DVD player or recorder, cell phone and
camcorder.

The Consumer Electronics Association holiday survey,
in its 13th year, was based on phone interviews with 1,019 adult U.S.
households in September. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3
percentage points.

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