updated 08:35 am EST, Mon December 24, 2007
NPD on Media Player Sales
Sales of most handheld media players have dropped during the holiday season just as sales for nearly every other consumer electronics category is climbing upwards, according to a new report from The NPD Group. Tracking sales between November 18th and December 9th -- typically regarded the first half of the holiday shopping period -- the research firm noted that the portable media market declined on average by 16 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. The lone exception is the iPod line, NPD says. Though growth is not as strong as for past years, the Apple device is believed to be countering the downward trend. The group has not published figures for iPod sales.
Most of the decline is attributable to market saturation, according to the research group. As most of the buyers who can both afford players and want them have already purchased the devices, those who are purchasing now are either relative stragglers or else upgrading from older players. Overall revenues are also dropping as most users cannot justify the storage needed for hard disk players, which are now averaging at 80GB for devices such as the iPod classic and Zune 80. Most instead opt for less expensive flash-based models.
Apple may have ultimately contributed to the sales decline from its rivals, NPD claims: as the company has expanded into a greater number of retail channels, it has pushed out some sales of manufacturers that previously had exclusive access to certain outlets.
The drop was paralleled by that of plasma HDTV sets, which dropped 6 percent in unit sales over the three-week period as viewers shifted to similarly-sized but less expensive LCD models, which grew 43 percent. The strongest growth has so far occurred for digital photo frames, which jumped by 266 percent, and by GPS navigation devices, which soared by 488 percent.