Association Report: CEA
Advocating for Innovation in Washington, Planning for it in Las Vegas. As the days get chillier heading into winter, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is focused on two things that are heating up: the holiday shopping season and the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 10-13.
The popularity of tablets, laptops and other powerful Internet-connected mobile devices will be the story this holiday season, and certainly one that will be prominent at CES. Consumer electronics will account for one-third of all holiday spending this year. Consumers plan to spend, on average, $246 on electronics gifts, an increase of six percent from last year and the highest level since CEA began tracking holiday spending. According to CEA research, computing products will lead the way with tablets, notebook/laptops and e-Readers, all wirelessly connected devices, in the top five of adults' holiday electronics wish lists. Tablets and notebooks/laptops trail only clothes on adults' overall holiday wish lists.
These devices are popular, for the most part, because of the content users can get on them. What this means is that the data demands on wireless networks is only going to continue to explode. Analysts forecast a 35 times increase in mobile broadband traffic over the next five years, and I suspect the surging sales of these devices is going to increase that formidable figure even more.
To accommodate these broadband demands, we need more wireless spectrum. CEA has been advocating heavily for legislation that enables broadcasters to put their underused airwaves up for auction. The auctions would be a financial windfall for the broadcasters, bring in billions to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction, and create more bandwidth for consumers to get fast, reliable wireless Internet service on those devices we know they will be snapping this holiday season and in the years to come.
Congress needs to pass legislation to enable these auctions to take place, and I hope they also understand how the trends in our industry impact policy. With our economy still in the gutter, it's high time leaders in our government take laser-like focus on how to enable innovation. More broadband spectrum would improve our ability to use the Internet to develop new services, which would create jobs and economic growth. To voice your support and other pro-innovation policies for this issue go to DeclareInnovation.com.
Not everyone makes the connection between innovation in the marketplace and policy priorities in Washington, but as head of CEA, it's at the top of my list. Along with pushing innovation forward with new legislation, we also seek to push back at proposals that would undermine the future of innovation.
In October, the House of Representatives introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act, following a similar bill, the PROTECT-IP ACT, introduced in the Senate this spring. Backed by Hollywood, both bills would seek to stop the clearly problematic issue of more than 500,000 movies being stolen every year worldwide. However, how those illegal acts would be stopped is the issue.
The bills would allow copyright owners – movie studios and other content providers – simply to accuse a website of infringement, which could lead to that site being shut down by court order and entire links to the site being wiped clean from the Internet. Any website with a hyperlink, such as Twitter, Facebook or a blog, would be subject to liability. More, non-infringing sites could be inadvertently shut down under the proposal. Indeed, the law is so far-reaching that it would force Internet providers like Comcast to block all access to the allegedly illegal site.
If enacted, this legislation would have potentially disastrous and far-reaching economics effects with its ability to partial shutter the dynamic Internet economic, which according to McKinsey accounts for 21 percent of gross domestic product over the last fives years in 13 mature nations.
The innovation happening in the marketplace is no doubt disruptive. More people are watching video on smaller devices and abandoning old technologies. But change is a good a thing. That same McKinsey study found the Internet creates 2.4 jobs for every one is takes away. We need to embrace technology change by getting more broadband spectrum to market and rejecting overly protective laws like the intellectual property bills under consideration in Congress. Without the right policies in place for the wireless broadband and the Internet, much of what you see at CES will have little practical application. Sign up for the Innovation Movement at the website above! Hope to see you at International CES www.cesweb.org