Drones and VR Drive Consumer Tech

Well-established technologies including smartphones, televisions and laptops will continue to drive US retail revenues and lead to one percent industry growth in 2016, according to the CTA (Consumer Technology Association), which owns and produces the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While these categories – together with tablets and desktops – account for 51 percent of the consumer tech industry’s revenue, the catalysts for industry growth are newer innovations such as wearables, virtual reality and drones.

“The industry is at an inflection point, because nascent categories are increasingly showing growth and will continue to gain market share,” explained, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist, CTA.

The CTA expects US sales of drones weighing more than 250 grams – the minimum for FAA-mandated registration – to reach one million units in 2016, a 145 percent increase from 2015’s total. When adding drones weighing 250 grams or less to those totals, the total forecast for 2016 drone sales tops 2.8 million units (up 149 percent from 2015) and $953 million in shipment revenues (a 115 percent increase from last year).

As new VR products from companies such as Sony and Oculus launch this year in 2016, total VR unit sales this year in the U.S could be about 1.2 million units, marking a 500% increase from last year. The CTA is predicting 1.2 million VR devices sold, accounting for $540 million in revenue – a 440% increase this year from 2015.

“We see the potential for VR as an immersive experience for kids and adults,” added DuBravac. “There are more than 100 companies doing something in VR or AR environments here, so it is a growth area.”

One area that promises to give the VR market even more traction will be the increasing availability of 360-degree VR cameras.

“Consumers will be able to upload and share content,” DuBravac noted, “that is one of the key pieces in any environment: that all of the components needed come together.”

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