The times they are a-changin' when it comes to electronic devices.
A new survey predicts consumers will buy 39 percent fewer personal computers this year compared with 2010 and that sales of simple mobile phones (not smartphones) will drop by 56 percent.
At the same time, the survey conducted by Accenture, sees consumption of 3-D TVs jumping an amazing 500 percent, tablet computers rising 160 percent and smartphones increasing 26 percent.
The global management consulting firm says the findings raise the question as to whether -- in the long run -- desktop and laptop PCs in the home will be replaced by newer technology alternatives such as tablet computers, netbooks, smartphones and e-book readers.
The survey of more than 8,000 consumers in eight countries found respondents are using multiple devices such as tablets and smart phones for activities that used to be done on their personal computers. For example, 75 percent of U.S. respondents emailed each week from their PCs in 2010 versus 80 percent the year before.
Kumu Puri, senior executive with Accenture's Electronics & High-Tech Practice, says it appears the PC market -- at least for consumers -- has reached a level of saturation and will continue to see diminished growth rates. He added that there's increasing potential for an end in sight for the relevance of the personal computer in the home as we know it today.
Even though content in 3-D television remains somewhat limited, purchase rates are expected to grow 500 percent, which is faster than all of the 19 technologies included in the survey. As consumer electronics companies consider ways to increase demand for 3-D TVs, price emerged as the biggest lever for driving greater interest in this new technology product.
According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents said they would be more inclined to buy a 3-D TV if the price were within their budget. Finding this price point was more significant among respondents under 24 years old (64 percent) than respondents who were older (50 percent).
Other factors respondents said would make them more inclined to buy a 3-D TV included having greater availability of content and not having to wear 3-D glasses.
Interestingly, among respondents in all eight countries surveyed, Chinese consumers were among the most enthusiastic purchasers and users of the latest consumer technologies. While only two-to-three percent of respondents in most countries own a 3-D TV, twice as many Chinese say they own one and 69 percent want or plan to own a 3-D TV, compared with only 25 percent of U.S. consumers.
The survey also found that Chinese respondents are big users of smartphones. More than half (53 percent) currently own a smartphone versus one-third of U.S. respondents. Furthermore, smartphones are predicted to be the most purchased device in China next year, with 38 percent of those surveyed planning to buy one.
The survey was released just in time for the huge Consumer Electronics Show opening in Las Vegas this Thursday.
Here's one interesting nugget. Guess what's not at the Consumer Electronics Show? Consumers. They're not even allowed to attend. It's only for industry employees and reporters.
The rest of us only get to watch snippets on our smart phones or read about it on our tablet computers.