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Tech by the Numbers: Wearables Make a Bid for the Mainstream, LCD TV Sales Rebound

Researchers offer their best estimates for growth in hot categories.

David Becker / Getty Images

As the annual gadget-fest that is the International CES gets under way in Las Vegas, industry analysts made their best efforts to project growth for some of the hot new product categories of the year, including the Internet of Things and wearable computing.

Here’s a roundup of some of the more interesting findings:

Internet of Things Deals Soar

The belief that chips will end up in everyday household products (as well as industrial environments) triggered merger mania in 2014, according to 451 Research. Buyers spent $14.3 billion to snap up some 60 companies last year — almost eight times the total spent in prior years. Notable deals include Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, a maker of automated thermostats and smoke alarms, and Intel’s $100 million grab for Basis Science, a maker of fitness trackers. The researchers expect even more activity this year.

Jump in Internet of Things Investment

Wearable Technology Tiptoes Toward the Mainstream

Most consumers have heard of wearable technology by now, according to a new survey from Magid Advisors. More than a quarter of the 2,500 mobile consumers surveyed said they planned to buy a wearable device within the next year. When asked which type of gadget they’re most interested in sporting, the smartwatch is the hands-down favorite (sorry, Google Glass and Fitbit). The Consumer Electronics Association projects wearable sales will jump 61 percent to 30.9 million units this year, with revenue reaching $5.1 billion.

Magid Consumer Survey of Interest in Wearables

Fitness Bands and Smartwatches Appeal to Different Types of Consumers

Researcher NPD Group found some intriguing demographic differences among fitness band aficionados and smartwatch owners. Fitness trackers have gained a following among affluent adult consumers — more than a third are 35- to 54-years-old and earn more than $100,000 a year. The majority — 54 percent — are women. Smartwatch buyers, meanwhile, are mostly male (71 percent), younger (ages 18 to 34) and had an annual income below $45,000.

NPD Connected Intelligence

The TV Mounts a Comeback

After a year of anemic growth, the LCD TV industry rebounded in 2014, according to the latest data from DisplaySearch. The researcher projects that global shipments will reach 223 million units — a seven percent increase over the previous year. The growth was fueled by North American consumers replacing their older flat-panel TVs and those in India and other Asia-Pacific countries scrapping their old tube TVs. Consumers traded up to bigger screens and higher-resolution 4K displays, the researcher found. DisplaySearch forecast continued growth this year.

IHS DisplaySearch's 2014 LCD TV Forecast

Cars Get Brainier, More Connected

This year’s CES looks like the prequel to the Detroit Auto Show, with keynotes from Mercedes-Benz Cars chief Dieter Zetsche and Ford President and CEO Mark Fields and exhibits from 10 big-name car companies, from Audi to Volkswagen. Here’s why: Drivers are craving help with navigation, better entertainment and communications systems and enhanced safety features in their vehicles. The industry projects sales of factory-installed vehicle technologies will reach $11.3 billion this year.

Blue Island / Shutterstock

Hollywood Reports Bump in Electronic Sales of Movies, TV Shows

Domestic box-office receipts fell last year, despite the performance of such blockbusters as Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” and Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie.” DVD sales and rentals also continued to slump, as did overall spending on home entertainment in the U.S. But the industry found something to celebrate in Vegas, as it reported robust growth in electronic sales of movies and TV shows. Digital purchases rose more than 30 percent in 2014, reaching nearly $1.6 billion. Electronic sales of newly released films rose more than 60 percent, compared with a year earlier. Subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime also gained momentum, with spending up nearly 26 percent to $4 billion.

The Lego Movie

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