Consumer electronics will do well, says Philips CEO

The future for consumer electronics looks bright, and high oil prices will help the industry, according to a Philips executive, who spoke at IFA.

The future for consumer electronics looks bright and high oil prices will help the industry, according to Hans-Joachim Kamp, who spoke at IFA in Berlin on Wednesday.

"Because of high oil and gas prices, we will again see a cocooning effect," said Kamp, CEO of Philips in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and vice president at German industry organization ZVEI.

Instead of spending money on expensive vacations abroad, consumers will spend their money at home, buying, for example, flat-screen TVs, he said. Price erosion has made it possible for almost everyone to upgrade, and there is still a large untapped market.

"There are still 170 million old CRT TVs in Europe," said Kamp.

But some of the numbers don't look that good; the overall market in Western Europe is expected to shrink by 2.4 percent during 2008. The reason for that is mainly a weak market in the U.K. The U.K. consumer electronics market value shrank by 11 percent during the first half of 2008, according to figures from GFU, which organizes IFA, and research company GfK.

"Currencies are part of the problem, but the major reason is that England didn't qualify for the European football championships," said Kamp.

That theory is backed up by the fact that the host nations, Austria and Switzerland, both grew by 13 percent during the same time period.

A drop in sales was expected in July, after Euro 2008 concluded, but that never materialized, which is also good news, said Kamp.

But the consumer electronics market isn't just flat-screen TVs. Another area that is receiving a lot of attention at this year's IFA is Blu-ray. The end of the format war, and players that cost €350 (US$515), spell good news for the format in Europe, said Kamp.

"Seeing is believing," he said.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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