The February 2013 devaluation of the bolivar has resulted in a downgrade to our forecast for consumer electronics sales in Venezuela. The devaluation will constrain consumer purchasing power and raise the cost of imported products for local consumers. An additional drag on the market is low business and consumer confidence derived from political uncertainty, following Nicolas Maduro's narrow victory in the April 14 Venezuelan presidential election. Although transition has been smooth so far, there are concerns about the future in the absence of Chavez. However, the market is not without positives and the Canaima Educativo notebooks for schools programme, and the February 2013 launch of digital broadcasting services in 13 states, will boost consumer electronics spending. Further, BMI expects an expanding population, rising disposable income and easier access to consumer credit to have positive effects on Venezuela's consumer electronics sales over the long term.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Computer hardware sales: US$1.32bn in 2012 to US$1.12bn in 2013, -5.2% in US dollar terms. Forecast downgraded in the wake of the devaluation of the bolivar.
- AV sales: US$1.10bn in 2012 to US$1.09bn in 2013, -1.1% in US dollar terms. Forecast in US dollar terms downgraded, but Venezuela's digital migration should drive demand for flatscreen TV sets.
- Handset Sales: US$1.41bn in 2012 to US$1.38bn in 2013, -2% in US dollar terms. Forecast in US dollar terms downgraded, but strength of local manufacturing in handsets and operator subsidies will help to absorb some of the impact of devaluation.
Key Trends & Developments
Venezuela's domestic consumer electronics production base has been developing rapidly in recent years, boosted by political support for social goals such as wider PC and mobile ownership, as well as import restrictions and, most recently, currency devaluation. This development has given producers the confidence to move into new product areas and, in June 2013, President Nicolas Maduro presented one of three tablets produced by VIT, with prices ranging from VEF2,950 (US$470) to VEF4,233. The Vergatario tablet follows on from the production of the Vergatario phone, which was aimed at making handsets affordable to the mass market in Venezuela. However, with the price of the tablets listed on the VIT website, BMI believes the tablets are unlikely to make an immediate impact on the market.
A past feature of the Venezuelan mobile market has been the particular enthusiasm for BlackBerry models, despite their high price. Regional telecoms giant Telefonica said that 70% of its regional BlackBerry sales were in the Venezuelan market in 2011, a report supported by BlackBerry which said Venezuela was its best market in Latin America. Sales of the device in Venezuela were reportedly double the level of sales in the Brazilian and Mexican market combined, despite Venezuela's lower population. However the most recent data on mobile browsing traffic from Statcounter show that Blackberry has fallen behind Android, as is the case across much of the world. BMI attributes the success of Android in squeezing out Blackberry to the wider availability of low- and mid-level smartphones running Android, with competition from Chinese handset vendors particularly important in driving the trend.