Analyst: Smartphone sales will lead consumer electronics market in 2015

MALTA--Declining smartphone prices will spark demand and result in smartphones being the leading consumer electronics category in 2015, according to global research firm GfK.

Speaking Saturday at the IFA 2015 trade show here, Jürgen Boyny, global director of consumer electronics for GfK Retail and Technology, said that his firm expects the smartphone market to grow by 1.5 percent in 2015 to $859.12 billion, up from $846.07 billion in 2014. "Smartphones are still a major driver of the digital market," Boyny said. "Prices are dropping."

Boyny expects to see 3 percent growth in smartphone sales in the U.S. this year, and a 2 percent decline in smartphone sales in Europe in 2015 as compared to 2014. The largest growth will be in the Middle East and Africa with 6 percent growth in 2015, according to GfK.

GfK's report is not surprising given that North America and Western Europe are relatively mature smartphone markets compared to Africa and other emerging markets.

A recent report from CCS Insight predicted that smartphone sales in the U.S. and Western Europe will start to decline as replacement cycles lengthen and device innovation slows. Specifically, CCS predicted t 2.07 billion total handsets (smartphones and feature phones) will be sold in 2015, up 5.7 percent from 2014.  In addition, the firm expected total handset sales to grow to 2.35 billion units in 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate of 3.7 percent between 2014 and 2019.

Boyny also said fitness trackers and smart watches will continue to be a hot area of growth in 2015, with GfK predicting that 114 million wearables will sell in 2015. Boyny also said to look for luxury brands such as Rolex, Tag Heuer and others to introduce branded smart watches to help counteract growing competition from companies like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung.

On the TV front, Boyny said that GfK found that 64 percent of consumers said they view a second screen (i.e. smartphone or tablet) when watching TV, which he said shows a growing opportunity for content companies and advertisers. Of those surveyed in the GfK study, 64 percent said they would like to be able to access advertiser websites on their devices. In addition, 20 percent said they would like to view content from a second device on their TV.

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