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CEA Study Shows Major Shifts in the Technology We Own

Study finds digital content is closing in on traditional media; smartphones, tablets are enjoying significant growth.

A major shift in the consumer electronics (CE) products owned by U.S. households is now underway, according to the 17th Annual CE Ownership and Market Potential Study released Monday by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Smartphones are now the third most-owned CE product in the country, trailing only televisions and DVD/Blu-ray players, a key reason why ownership of digital content is now poised to surpass traditional content within the next few years.

“A strong consumer appetite for mobile connected devices is causing some very interesting changes in the CE ownership landscape,” said Steve Koenig, senior director, market research at CEA. “These mobile devices have greatly influenced the type of content Americans consume, and given birth to new emerging tech categories such as wearable activity trackers and smart home devices that consumers are beginning to embrace more broadly.”

Most Owned CE Products

The top 10 most-commonly owned CE products shifted dramatically in 2015. Smartphones are now owned in 72 percent of U.S. households—an eight percentage-point jump in the last year—trailing only televisions, which are owned in almost every home in the country (97 percent), and DVD/Blu-ray players (78 percent). Tablets, now owned by more than half of American households, saw the largest increase in ownership growth over last year, jumping nine percentage points to reach 54 percent ownership, and for the first time joining the list of top 10 most owned tech products.

Laptop ownership experienced the second largest gain in household penetration, reaching two-thirds of households (67 percent). Headphones also saw a large gain in ownership (59 percent, up five percentage points), moving up one spot to seventh on the list of most-owned CE devices (from second in 2014). Basic cell phones saw the largest decrease of any CE product, dropping under 50 percent household penetration and out of the top 10 most-owned CE product list for the first time.