Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Why You’re Going to Buy a TV This Year, and What That Means for Apple, Samsung and Everyone Else

All of those fancy TV sets you saw on display last week at CES? The ones with Internet bells and whistles, and resolutions so amazing you can’t actually use them?

Maybe some of you will buy them, after all.

And, if not those, there’s a very good chance you may be buying some kind of TV in the near future, says Frank N. Magid Associates. The research shop polled consumers in November, and found them more likely to buy a new set than any time since 2002. It also found that TV purchases have been ticking up in the past couple years. (Click to enlarge.)

magid tv purchase history

magid tv purchase intent

So what does that mean? The safest conclusion to draw here is that as the economy has crawled out of the Lehman Brothers hole of 2008, people have gotten more interested in dropping cash on a flat screen.

The more interesting takeaway, though, if you believe the data, is that the replacement cycle for TVs is actually decreasing. And that people are more interested in new TVs as they add new features.

If that’s the case, then some of us should rethink our assumptions about the TV of the Future. Lots of folks (including myself), assume that we’re headed to a world of dumb, cheap TVs, with lots of inputs so that we can smarten them up with Apple TVs, Google TVs, Rokus, whatever.

The basic theory: Technology moves fast, and there’s no reason to spend a lot on TV features that will be outmoded soon, because you’re going to hold on to your set for a long time. Better to spend much less on an Internet-connected box, and upgrade that one periodically.

But if we start upgrading our sets as often as we swap out our PCs, then it’s a different ball game.


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