updated 11:03 am EST, Tue February 19, 2013
Tablets, smartphones only categories to see sales increases
Because it does so well with its two flagship products -- the iPhone and the iPad -- Apple now accounts for 19.9 percent of all US consumer tech sales based on revenue. The result far outpaces any other company, even arch-rival Samsung -- which saw a similar gain in percentage but remained below 10 percent in share. The gains for the two tech giants came at the expense of other companies, including HP, Dell and Sony, which saw a combined drop of $9.5 billion in revenue.
Apple increased its share of sales by 2.6 percent, the largest gain of any company in the sector. Apple and Samsung together added a total of $6.5 billion in new revenue over their results from 2011. The difference of $3 billion represents a two percent decrease in US consumer tech spending overall, reports industry analysis company NPD.
Of the five main categories of US consumer electronics, only tablets and smartphones showed any growth compared to last year. Adding evidence to Tim Cook's contention of a "post-PC" era, both notebooks and desktop computers saw significant decreases from last year. Most notably, desktop computer sales saw a drop of 11 percent, compared to a nine percent gain in 2011. Notebooks, which had dropped slightly in 2011 compared to 2010, increased the drop to nine percent from a two percent drop the year prior.
By contrast, 2012 continued the strong consumer adoption of tablets -- with the sector gaining 42 percent over 2011, while smartphones managed a 25 percent gain during the same period. The gains catapulted Apple to third place among US consumer tech retailers, beating Amazon and Staples but behind Best Buy and Walmart, respectively.
Though desktop computers saw the largest drop in sales in 2012, also hard-hit was the HDTV sector, which saw a seven percent drop. The market for HDTVs was "mired in a cycle of declining prices and weak volume," NPD wrote in its report. Fourth-quarter upticks in all five categories gave the analytical industry monitoring group some hope for a trend of growth in 2013. The top five categories increased its own share against all other categores, rising to 53 percent of all consumer tech sales, up from 49 percent a year ago.
The slow fall of the flat-panel TV industry may provide more incentive for Apple to finally enter the market after years of rumors. Persistent reports have the company experimenting with some kind of hardware and software combination that would, in Apple's tradition, likely disrupt the existing industry. Rumors have suggested that Apple may incorporate Apple TV functionality into an existing or future line of TVs by other manufacturers (most likely Sharp) and also augment traditional cable TV through better ways of discovering new programs, among other conjectures.
Former CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had "cracked it" when it came to creating a better TV interface than, for example, those used by makers of so-called "smart" TVs. Many of Apple's main suppliers have been seen to be ramping up their display technologies, adding fuel to the rumours that Apple will either make or co-license its technology in partnership with a TV maker.