Smartphones eat up 5.9 percent of the electronic gadget market

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Sales of general purpose smartphones are causing the market for standalone gadgets such as cameras, camcorders and GPS devices to shrink, falling 5.9 percent overall during the holiday season in the US.

According to market research firm NPD Group, sales of all electronics reached $9.5 billion in the five weeks ending December 24. The year's decline was not quite as bad as last year, which was down 6.2 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

Sales of camcorders dropped by 43 percent, digital picture frames by 38 percent, GPS navigation devices by 33 percent and both MP3 players and "point and shoot" cameras were down 21 percent, all apparent casualties of the general purpose smartphone.

Sales of electronic devices that don't directly overlap in functionality with the smartphone fared better, with PC and TV sales down just 4 percent.

Desktop PCs were down 2 percent overall, while notebook sales were down 5 percent. Average Selling Prices of PCs actually inched upward $9 to hit $575, continuing last year's trend among PC makers of increasing prices for the holidays, NPD reported.

Sales of HDTVs larger than 50 inches helped reverse the decline among TVs, where sales of home theater systems increased by 10 percent and sales of stand-alone streaming devices (which appear to be led by Apple TV) jumped by 65 percent.

In contrast, Blu-ray players were down 17 percent after growing 3.8 percent last year, an endorsement of Apple's exclusive digital downloads strategy for media playback.

"The accelerated rate of decline in older technology categories such as DVD, GPS and MP3 players put a ceiling on how well the industry could perform during the holiday," wrote NPD's vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker.

A report by Canaccord Genuity predicts that Apple will report sales of 30.1 million iPhones for the holiday quarter, a jump of 31 percent over Apple's sales in the third calendar quarter. The firm says companies selling Android products will report shipments of an estimated 68.9 milllion devices, representing growth of 17.3 percent over the previous quarter.