German CE outlook, 'will fall in '09'

Chris Forrester

Market research specialists GfK says the Consumer Electronics market in Germany remains positive. The market in total increased by 1.7% to a volume of approx 23.7bn. 63% of this turnover came from traditional CE products, with consumer favourites such as TV, digital still cameras, portable media players and portable navigation devices continuing to drive sales.

The positive trend in 2008 was supported significantly by the demand for large size flat-screen TVs with an improved picture quality. On the other hand the turnover share of telecoms products declined, at around 14% of total turnover in 2008.

The turnover of set-top boxes and aerials/dishes advanced further at a high level essentially supported by digital set-top boxes with a share of 79%. All in all turnovers achieved a change rate of +3.9%. Set-top boxes with HDTV receivers already cover 24% of total turnover. In 2008 more than 340,000 HDTV-boxes were sold, of these 270,000 alone for satellite transmission. In 2009 sales are expected to grow further by approximately 90%.

Researchers from GfK, gfu and ZVEI have a moderately optimistic view of the whole German CE market in 2009. Their forecast for 2009 sees a 4% decline, meaning it rests at a high level of more than 22 billion, a positive fact in view of the economic ambiance in general. Any foretelling however is difficult since the whole economic situation appears insecure.

In this year still the CE market benefits from a lingering cocooning effect. In times of crisis, the consumer tends to invest more in the furnishing of his home, comprising pieces of furniture but also CE products. Private home cinemas with big-size flat-screen TVs and high quality home theatre equipment come to the fore, says GfK.

The strongest impulses would flow from flat-screen TVs in HD, said Dr. Rainer Hecker, chairman of the supervisory board of the Gesellschaft fr Unterhaltungs-und Kommunikationselektronik (gfu). ARD and ZDF would start regular HDTV tranmission early in 2010, at the beginning of the
Winter Olympics.

Other high-definition media such as Blu-ray disc-players, digital cameras, camcorders and video games would further increase demand. New network solutions including wireless would open up additional possibilities of using high definition contents. For 2009 the study expected a stable demand also for portable devices, from digital cameras, especially SLR, to digital video players and portable car navigation, to notebooks or smartphones of constantly augmenting capacity. In the whole market the trend to high-end brand products would continue, they suggest.

ZVEIs vice president Hans-Joachim Kamp is optimistic that despite a critical economic situation in 2009 no substantial downturn is to be anticipated. The IFA trade show (September 4 to 9) would contribute to this as a business monitor. Moreover, innovative products would present an attraction to consumers with tangible benefits for comfort and entertainment in their homes and on the way.