BBC World Service Making Huge Cutbacks – The British government – although it has praised the BBC World Service, the most trusted radio voice in the world – has trimmed the BBC’s budget by 16%. The World Service will close 5 of its 32 language services and reduce its work force by a quarter, cutting around 650 jobs over the next three years. The cuts will shut down shortwave broadcasts to China, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba, Albania, English broadcasts to the Caribbean and Portuguese to Africa. The BBC pledged it would reverse the cuts in 2014, when it takes over responsibility for finance of The World Service from the Foreign Office.
Growth of Web-enabled Home Electronics – According to In-Stat research firm, the global installed base of Web-enabled stationary consumer electronics (CE) devices is growing rapidly and includes a variety of devices which use small software apps that directly access online portals such as Netflix, Amazon, Pandora or YouTube. This is expected to proliferate over the next five years, surpassing 230 million installed units by 2014 – mostly in North America and Europe. The research also found that there is a distinction between Web-enabled and network-enabled CD devices; but most Blu-ray players provide both. In 2014, nearly 70% of DTVs shipped will be network-enabled, though many will not be web-enabled. It also found that interest in enhancing the IP video capabilities of cable, satellite and IPTV set top boxes was at an increase.
Growth of Wireless-Connectivity Chipsets – The demand for wireless connectivity chipsets has increased greatly due to the surging sales of various wireless “always connected” consumer and industrial electronics products. ABI Research expects that when the final numbers are gathered, shipments of wireless connectivity chipsets will reach approximately two billion – a 22% increase compared to 2009. Bluetooth was in the lead of all categories, accounting for 60% of 2010 shipments. Wi-Fi chipsets took second place with approximately 38% market share. Today nearly every netbook, tablet and gaming console has Wi-Fi enabled, and strong growth is expected in digital still cameras, camcorders, DTVs, DVD players, DVRs and set-top boxes.
Best and Worst Electronic Holiday Gifts – All types of computers and digital cameras were the top consumer electronic gifts this past holiday season. Tablets were found to be the biggest game changer, often extremely popular with older consumers. Netbooks had the lowest satisfaction rating, many feeling their laptop functionality failed to meet expectations, especially with regard to screen size. Satisfaction and behavioral changes were highest among all age groups who had acquired “the modern day electronic Swiss Army Knife, the Smartphone.”
Consumers More Optimistic and Spending More – According to Consumer Reports, consumers are more optimistic than they have been in two years and claim to be facing fewer financial difficulties than a year ago. Their Sentiment Index is at 48.7 – the highest level wince October 2008. The Trouble Tracker Index is down to 54.2 from 58.2 last January 2010. A measure of the stress consumers feel in their lives versus a year ago is down significantly at 55.4 compared to 60.8 a year ago. Consumer retail spending for December showed modest gains vs. one year ago, and the increases were closely associated with the performance of major home electronics. One-fifth of respondents (20.8%) purchased major home electronics in December, up from 15.8% last year.