Earlier this month, the Consumer Electronics Association [CEA] announced its holiday spending survey results, which painted a very pretty picture for the gadget industry.
According to the CEA, this year could be a record-breaking holiday shopping season for consumer gadgets--with spending levels reaching a 17-year high.
Although overall spending is expected to be down by 2%, consumers will be spending more on consumer electronics. According to the report, 73% of U.S. adults (up from 67% last year) are planning to give gadgets as gifts this year.
But is everyone going to be a big winner this holiday season?
While companies like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) could break the bank with their new devices, other companies like BlackBerry-maker RIM (NASDAQ:RIMM), Palm (NASDAQ:HPQ) and, interestingly enough, Nintendo could watch their products collect dust on the shelf.
Here is a quick breakdown of the expected winners and losers of this yearâ€™s holiday shopping season:
1. BY PRODUCTS:
â€˘ iPad: Competitive tablet pricing and rock solid OS and features. New features such as multitasking, AirPlay, and wireless printing with the upcoming OS 4.2 upgrade will bolster an already stellar product.
â€˘ Kinect: The tremendous base is going to lead to a significant amount of curious consumers. Love it or hate it, this new type of control is bound to be at the top of the list, even if just from a curiosity standpoint.
â€˘ Droid Pro: What could be a final blow to RIM, the Droid Pro looks poised to take a bigger slice of the enterprise and consumer market.
â€˘ Wii: This one-trick pony has lost its competitive edge to Sony and Microsoft. Lack of â€śmust-haveâ€ť third-party games make the Wii a poor buy this holiday season.
â€˘ 3-D TVs: Sure to be a bust. Although the industry has been pushing 3D quite hard recently, consumers remain lukewarm. Two key problems: The hardware is too expensive and the glasses are cumbersome.
â€˘ Palm: Pre 2 is an incremental over Pre Plus. WebOS 2 adds a few solid features (such as stacks) but it is wasted on what is essentially last generation hardware.
2. BY PRODUCT CATEGORIES:
â€˘ Tablets: Both Appleâ€™s iPad and Samsungâ€™s Galaxy Tab are expected to be big hits this season, due to the novelty of tablet device.
â€˘ Motion Controls: Another novel technology is the motion controller; Kinect and PlayStation Move expected to be big winners.
â€˘ Smartphones: The smartphone will continue to be a popular item this year, with the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 taking the lead on sales.
â€˘ 3D TVs: Consumers have yet to warm to the technology, no matter how hard companies push them.
â€˘ Dedicated Cameras: Now that phones are quickly becoming the camera of choice for a majority of casual consumers, dedicated cameras are becoming less relevant.
â€˘ DVDs and Blu-Ray: Downloadable content is slowly taking over as more of the population gets access to high-speed Internet.
3. BY COMPANIES
â€˘ Apple: The Cupertino company has done a great job at innovative products this year and should do well with holiday shoppers. Hot items will include the new Macbook Air, iPhone (Verizon rumors), iPad and AppleTV.
â€˘ Microsoft: The company is often criticized for not being particularly innovative, but this year Microsoft has the Windows Phone 7, Kinect and the Xbox 360; all three are exciting consumers.
â€˘ Google: The company will continue to win with its Android smartphones, which recently surpassed Apple and RIM to become the most widely used mobile platform in the U.S. The Android platform also permeates most aspects of consumer electronics. Google also has an interesting new product with Google TV, and it will be interesting to see what the sales numbers look like at the end of December.
â€˘ RIM: It will continue to struggle because of a stale mobile operating system (even though OS 6 was launched recently, it is little more than a patch on top of OS 5). Additionally, Playbook has no release date or price. Not to mention enterprise users are leaving in droves.
â€˘ Nintendo: Wii sales are stagnating amidst motion controllers from Sony and Microsoft.They have no new hardware launching in the U.S. despite the competition. The portable 3DS could be a game changer, but that's not scheduled for a U.S. release until 2011.
â€˘ Palm: Pre 2 is an incremental over Pre Plus. WebOS 2 adds a few solid features (such as stacks) but it's essentially last generation hardware.
Jonathan Rettinger is a nationally known technology blogger and owner/editor-in-chief of TechnoBuffalo.com (www.technobuffalo.com). His online technology reviews are watched by six million viewers each month. Rettingerâ€™s product reviews, industry coverage, and investigative reporting is often cited by numerous leading technology websites around the world.