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Smart phones and tablets are among the bright spots in consumer electronics

Sales of smart phones, tablet computers, Blu-ray disc players, digital book readers and, to some extent, 3-D television sets are expected to take off this year, helping offset declines elsewhere in consumer electronics, according to an industry group.

As students begin to gear up for school and everyone else starts drawing up their holiday wish lists, the Consumer Electronics Assn. is betting that certain devices will more than make up for shortfalls in MP3 players, digital cameras and car stereos.

After projecting anemic sales growth of just 0.3% for 2010 in January, CEA economists last month revised their estimates and predicted a rosy 3% growth to $175 billion in U.S. wholesale revenue.

“Our projections for the second half of the year are now pretty bullish,” said Jim Barry, spokesman for the trade group. “What’s driving it? In short, new stuff.”

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U.S. consumers are expected to buy 30% more smart phones this year than they did last year.

Tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad and Dell’s Streak also are expected to sell well, Barry said. So well, in fact, that tablets are projected to outsell netbooks in 2011. And by 2013, they’re expected to represent 1 out of every 5 computers sold.

Together, mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets will unseat TV sets as the No. 1 consumer electronics category this year, Barry said, highlighting the importance of on-the-go media consumption.

TV sets have long been the top purchase for consumers. But with cutthroat price competition and shoppers going for smaller screens, revenue from that category is expected to be eclipsed by mobile gadgets. Cushioning the fall is the onslaught of 3-D TVs coming in the fall. CEA expects shoppers to snap up 2.1 million 3-D TVs out of 30 million sets sold overall this year, Barry said.

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alex.pham@latimes.com


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