Developing countries like China and India will drive global sales of consumer electronics above one trillion dollars (£650 billion) this year for the first time, even as cash-strapped shoppers in the US and Western Europe ease off spending for hi-tech gear, industry analysts say.
Developing countries will account for 46% of global gadget sales in 2012, up from 37% four years ago, according to UK-based GfK Boutique Research and the Consumer Electronics Association.
The groups presented their forecast ahead of the massive International Consumer Electronics Show, which is kicking off in Las Vegas.
Their estimate of 2012 global electronics sales, at 1.038 trillion dollars, represents growth of 5% from last year. That compares with growth of 8% from 2010 to 2011.
Consumers in China and other developing Asian countries, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe are snapping up hi-tech goods as they climb towards a middle-class lifestyle. Meanwhile, gadget sales in the US, Japan and Western Europe are stagnant, unable to command a higher share of consumer spending.
Separately, the NPD Group said US sales of consumer electronics fell 5.9% during the festive season, as smartphones cannibalise sales of standalone gadgets like cameras, camcorders and GPS navigation devices.
The firm, which tracks retail sales, said electronics sales excluding phones totalled 9.5 billion dollars (£6.1 billion) in the five weeks ending December 24.
Camcorder sales plunged 43%, and sales of digital picture frames fell 38%. GPS units slumped 33%. PC and TV sales slipped just 4%, bolstered by sales of TVs bigger than 50 inches.
Best Buy, the largest US electronics retailer, said on Friday that December sales lagged because of weak traffic. Sales at stores open a year fell 1.2% for the month. However, sales were strong for smartphones, tablet computers and e-readers.
The CEA and GfK expect smartphones and tablets to be the hot products globally as well, to the exclusion of other devices. "We'll see most product categories slowing down or going into contraction," said Steve Bambridge, research director at GfK.