GPS device sales explode in Q4

20 Feb

NPD data, just released, depict an interesting shift in consumer electronics purchases through the holiday 2007 shopping season. [The chart is courtesy of Infectious Greed’s Paul Kedrosky, who has his own interesting riff on things. Click on it to enlarge.] Predictably, LCD TV sales were a big winner. Nothing terribly surprising there.

npd-holiday-sales_thumb1.png

One also sees a curious drop in MP3 player sales (are you listening, Apple?) and digi-cameras. Off the cuff, I’d say the ‘mobilization of everything’ trend is what’s to blame for some of that. Clearly, as photo quality improves on cell phones, and as MP3 player functionality gets embedded into such devices, we are going to see a slow erosion of standalone MP3 players and digi-cam sales due to cannibalization. Pretty soon, such standalone devices will be the exception rather than the rule for the majority of consumers. I can hear the chorus now: “What, it’s ONLY a camera!?!; What, it’s ONLY an MP3 player!?!”I am already weary of “lugging” my cigarette-pack sized camera around when my trusty Treo does a serviceable enough job for quick and dirty snaps. I fear I am not alone.

Granted, this will take some time, but I am a bit surprised to see the turndown so early in the product cycle. If this isn’t evidence of product cycle compression, I don’t know what is. 

But, by far the big surprise is how GPS sales were virtually off the chart in the most recent quarter. I have written extensively on GPS-enabled software solutions, devices, Location-Based Advertising and the like on this forum. So, clearly, I am not an impartial observer here. That said, I was taken aback at these figures. Like most people on the venture side, I see rosy device penetration forecasts in most every funding pitch having to do with GPS-enabled services. However, this data supports a lot of those scenarios in ways that are rare from an investor’s perspective. Seldom does an investor see sales figures that seem to map nicely with PowerPoint figures from an entrepreneur’s presentation.

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