Which gadgets and gizmos are going to be top of consumers' shopping lists this year, will 2014 be the year of the fitness band or the 4K TV or will the iPhone 6 be the must have gift this Christmas?
According to the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, consumer confidence has rebounded and US shoppers are ready to spend more than in previous years on tech gifts and to try something more interesting and daring than simply upgrading their tablet -- although a new tablet will be high on people's wish list.
A tablet under the tree?
However, the NPD Group, who has been pooling its expertise to forecast what will be hot and what will be left sitting on the shelves as 2014 becomes 2015, thinks that demand for tablets isn't there, despite the launch of new iPads and a new Nexus branded Google tablet.
"Tech demand shrinks a little bit every year, because what used to take four devices to do three years ago takes three devices to do now, and maybe it will take two devices a couple of years from now," says Stephen Baker, Vice President, Industry Analyst, Consumer Technology.
He believes that thanks to their bigger tablet-challenging screens the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus are going to be hugely popular this holiday season. "Certainly phones are just going to be a tidal wave of demand -- you'll see enormous increases in iPhone sales; both the 6 and the 6 Plus will be huge. That pent-up demand is going to last into 2015. But the strong market for bigger iPhones will take a bite out of the tablet market this holiday. It is all part of the on-going cannibalization of one tech product by another," he explains.
In order to stimulate sales in the US, tablet prices are expected to be very competitive this holiday season, but so are those of notebooks. Baker believes that this competitive pricing will mean that laptops sales will be strong.
Activity trackers to accompany New Year resolutions
Wearable fitness trackers are also expected to prove popular this holiday season, partly because of the buzz created by the upcoming Apple Watch launch but, more crucially, according to Eddie Hold, Vice President, Connected Intelligence , NPD, they have already started becoming normal for many US consumers. "It's a market where they're becoming more and more accepted -- the over-18 population is already using them," he says.
The CEA's figures back up this assertion. Its most recent data suggests that one in ten US consumers are seriously considering buying some form of activity tracker this holiday season.
Gifts for the home and UHD TVs
Baker thinks that by the end of this year a growing number of consumers will have snapped up their first individual home automation products. "They'll buy some items for the basic automation benefits, but the concept of a truly integrated home is not yet a reality for the consumer," he says. However, he believes that for UHD TV, that US sales could take everyone by surprise.
The first branded sub-$1000 television sets with ultra-high-definition displays are just rolling out and the devices are finally on a par in terms of price with top of the range HD televisions.
This assertion chimes with the CEA. It also found that a new TV was the third most popular gift that consumers wanted to receive this year when it published its data at the start of October. "The appetite for tech is strong for the 2014 holiday season," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis, CEA. "Expect to see growing consumer awareness and interest in emerging tech categories, including health and fitness technology, as industry giants have entered the playing field. These products will make their first big splash this holiday season, setting up 2015 as a breakout year for emerging segments like smartwatches and smart home technologies."