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Tablets top list of most-purchased electronic devices in the US this year, says CEA survey

As if we needed further proof that 2013 is the year of the tablet, a survey says tablets have topped the list of most purchased electronic devices in the US.
April 23, 2013
As if we needed further proof that 2013 is the year of the tablet, the Consumer Electronics Association or CEA has just published the results of its most recent annual survey — called the Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study — to reveal that tablet computers are now at the top of the list when it comes to mobile electronic device adoption rates in the U.S. It is followed by smartphones in second place, e-readers in third place, and wireless mobile hotspots in fourth place. Evidently, public interest in mobile devices is now bigger than ever.

According to information gathered in the this year’s CEA consumer electronics study, the household penetration rate of tablets this year has gone up 17% compared with last year, and now represents 39% of the market. Meanwhile, the rise in smartphone adoption tops off at 12%, and both e-readers and mobile wireless hotspots rose 10% each. This should come as no surprise given the seemingly steady rise in the rate of mobile electronic device adoption seen in recent years.

In the same study, it has been noted that only 21% of consumers are planning to purchase tablets. For comparison, 33% of consumers plan to purchase headphones, while 29% plan to purchase new smartphones. Clearly, smartphones will remain on top as far as actual market share of mobile devices is concerned, but it’s possible that it might finally be trumped by tablets at some point in the future.


Mobile Devices Lead Electronics Purchases, Finds CEA’s Annual Ownership Study

Tablets, smartphones, e-readers, wireless hot spots jump in household penetration rates; overall CE spending up year over year

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Consumers’ desire for mobility is driving sales of tablets, smartphones, e-readers and wireless mobile hotspots, according to a new study released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study also found that consumer electronics (CE) spending is up for individuals (35 percent) and households (36 percent) over the last 12 months.

Mobile Devices

Sales of tablet computers are driving growth in the CE industry; household penetration of tablets is up 17 percent year over year. The CEA study also found household increased penetration rates for smartphones (12 percent), e-readers (10 percent) and wireless mobile hotspots (10 percent).

Year-over-Year Increase in Household Penetration Rate
Tablet Computers17%
Wireless Mobile Hotspot10%

“For the first time in the 15 years we’ve conducted this survey, the top four products making headway in U.S. households are mobile devices,” said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst, market research, CEA. “We’re seeing overall household penetration rates for smartphones and tablets at 58 percent and 39 percent respectively, and we expect they will continue to dominate the marketplace in the coming year.”

Smartphone ownership continues to flourish, with 69 million U.S. households now owning a smartphone. As a result, basic cell phone (non-smartphone) ownership is steadily declining.

E-reader ownership increased from 19 percent in 2012 to 29 percent in 2013, and wireless mobile hotspot devices nearly doubled in ownership from 11 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2013.


Televisions are the most universally-owned CE devices, with 98 percent of U.S. households owning at least one TV. In the last year, Internet-enabled TVs experienced a nine point increase in household penetration rates, and can now be found in 38 percent of U.S. households.

Nearly three in four (74 percent) U.S. households report owning at least one HDTV. Among HDTV sets, LCD TVs remain the preferred choice, with more than six in ten (61 percent) U.S. households owing at least one LCD TV.

Households owning DVD players decreased by four percentage points in 2012, while ownership of Blu-ray disc players increased by five percentage points. This serves as an indication that households are continuing to replace DVD players with Blu-ray disc players, optimizing picture quality on their HDTV sets.

Subscription Services

Nearly 43 million U.S. households (36 percent) subscribe to video rental and streaming services, and another 15 percent of households said they expected to subscribe to at least one of these services in the year ahead. Video subscription services are expected to continue to grow as these services evolve. Internet phone, digital file back-up, and music subscription services all experienced five percentage point increases over 2012 levels.

Top Planned CE Purchases

In terms of anticipated purchases over the next year, the mobility trend continues; 29 percent of consumers said they plan to buy smartphones, second only to the 33 percent who indicated that they were planning to purchase headphones. Other planned purchases include notebook/laptop/netbook computers (22 percent), tablets (21 percent) and HDTVs (20 percent).

Overall CE Spending

CE spending over the past 12 months is up considerably for both individuals and households. On average, U.S. adults reported spending $746 on CE products, a 35 percent increase over the prior year, while the average American household spent $1,312, an increase of 36 percent. Spending increased most dramatically for adults ages 25-34, up 62 percent from 2012 levels to $1,171.

“Several factors are contributing to an increase in consumer spending. Unemployment numbers are declining. And prices are falling across several CE product categories as competition increases within these market segments,” said Tillmann. “This bodes well for consumers, affording them the opportunity to purchase more products and upgrade with greater frequency.”

The 15th Annual Household CE Ownership and Market Potential Study (April 2013) was conducted between January 25-28 and February 1-4, 2013. It was designed and formulated by CEA Market Research, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer electronics industry. Please cite any information to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. The complete study is available for free for CEA member companies at Non-members may purchase the study for $1,200 at the CEA Store.

About CEA:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $209 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry. More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also owns and produces the International CES – The Global Stage for Innovation. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online: and Follow CES at and through both CEA and CES social media channels.[/press]