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Top Holiday Tech Gifts from 25 Years Ago

Ben Arnold, Sr. Director, Innovation and Trends, Consumer Technology Association

The list of most coveted gifts for the 2018 holiday season reads like the weekly circular for any retailer, according to CTA’s 25th annual holiday tech shopping trends study. TVs, notebook PCs, smartphones, tablets and smartwatches top the list of most desired gifts to receive this holiday season.

It makes sense that these products would register so highly on a list of top holiday tech items. These screen devices are among the most popular product categories in consumer technology.  Further, most of them are in the midst of significant upgrade cycles (for example the step up to 4K/UHD and HDR in televisions and LTE connectivity in smartwatches) giving consumers a reason to update their current devices.  

We first began studying holiday tech shopping patterns in 1994. Back then, the top tech gift items consumers told us they planned to buy looked different:

  1. Video Game system (Gen 1)

  2. Color TV

  3. CD Player

  4. Portable Stereo

  5. Cordless Phone

But not much different. While the most popular devices from a quarter century ago have changed, many of the things we accomplish with technology- enjoying content, gaming, communicating- remain mostly the same.

The most notable difference between then and now, of course, is the influence of internet connectivity both in the design of technology products and in how consumers use them.  While the most popular devices of today can trace their ancestry back to the color TVs, portable stereos, and cordless phones of 1994, activities like high quality music and video streaming, gaming, and even social media have profoundly transformed these devices over time.

Looking ahead, future innovations such as 5G mobile speeds, 8K video and advancements in artificial intelligence across a wide array of product categories are poised to transform our consumer devices even more.

It makes one wonder how the next 25 years of innovation will influence holiday tech shopping. On that note, stay tuned for our 2044 holiday tech shopping trends study.

Learn more about the 2019 holiday shopping season from CTA.