Monday, November 24, 2014

Smart watches and streaming media devices forecasted to be hot gift items for holidays, according to Parks Associates

Functionality, health benefits, and low price points help drive consumer sales

New analysis and insights from Parks Associates predict smart watches and connected entertainment devices, including game consoles and streaming media devices, will be the most popular gifts for the holiday season. Among connected CE devices acquired in 2014, 37% of smart watches, 25% of streaming media devices (including players like the Roku 3 and sticks like the Google Chromecast), and 20% of gaming consoles were received as gifts. Other popular CE gifts include tablets and e-book readers, motion controllers, DVRs, MP3 players, and Internet-connectable music systems.

“Apple boosted the profile of the wearable category with the announcement of its Apple Watch," said Harry Wang, Director, Health and Mobile Product Research, Parks Associates. "We expect sales of wearables, including connected activity trackers and smart watches, to top 11 million units by end of year in the U.S., thanks to this increased attention, and they will continue to be a popular gift purchase, especially on Black Friday, due to many promotions from retailers and OEMs and their uniqueness as a new-year gift to promote better health."

Streaming media devices are highly affordable and generally do very well during the holiday shopping season. Parks Associates analysis shows streaming sticks will account for a larger percentage of streaming media device sales in 2014 than they did in 2013. The low price points also make them appealing for stocking stuffers.

"In 2013, 46% of Google Chromecasts and 37% of streaming media players, such as the Roku 3 and Apple TV, were purchased as gifts. The two new streaming sticks this year—the Roku HDMI Streaming Stick and the Amazon Fire TV Stick—have similar functionality as the regular streaming players at a much lower price point," said Barbara Kraus, Director, Research, Parks Associates. "However, the Amazon Fire TV Stick will not be available until mid-January, which leaves the field open for Google and Roku."

Kraus notes that, with the exception of the headset jack and gaming controllers, the Roku stick has essentially the same features and functionality as the Roku 3. This benefit is important to consumers, who, when shopping for a streaming media device, largely based their decision on the features over the price of the device.

"Success of streaming media devices, both sticks and players, hinges in large part on younger consumers' preference for online VOD," said Glenn Hower, Research Analyst, Parks Associates. "Over 70% of video consumption still occurs on the television. The experience of watching on the big screen is still a key part of the video-viewing event, and purchasing a streaming device is simply an easier process than the research and price comparison involved with flat-panel TV purchases."

Parks Associates is hosting multiple sessions at CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, January 6, 2015, in Las Vegas addressing next-gen TV services and the impact of streaming media devices in the video ecosystem. Speakers include AT&T, Amazon, BrightLine, Cisco, Comcast, DivX, Gracenote, NETGEAR, Roku, ThinkAnalytics, TiVo , and Verizon Digital Media Services.

Analysts are available to comment on holiday CE purchase patterns and expectations for 2015 sales. Data requests and analyst interviews can be coordinated by contacting Holly Sprague at for more information.

About Parks Associates: Parks Associates is an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. Founded in 1986, Parks Associates creates research capital for companies ranging from Fortune 500 to small start-ups through market reports, primary studies, consumer research, custom research, workshops, executive conferences, and annual service subscriptions.

The company's expertise includes the Internet of Things (IoT), digital media and platforms, entertainment and gaming, home networks, Internet and television services, digital health, mobile applications and services, support services, consumer apps, advanced advertising, consumer electronics, energy management, and home control systems and security.

Each year, Parks Associates hosts industry webcasts, the CONNECTIONS™ Conference Series, Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, and Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers.

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