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Smart washers, toasters spur review of government's $23B ICT survey

Tuesday 19th March 2013

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The spread of computer chips into products as diverse as washing machines, toasters and medical equipment is forcing Statistics New Zealand to overhaul its biennial technology survey.

Trading in information and communication technology goods and services was worth $23 billion in 2012, up 17 percent from the last survey in 2010, according to the government statistician.

Of that, $10.1 billion was made up of sales of a widening range of so-called smart goods products and $12.6 billion came from services such as mobile and fixed-line connections, internet access and cable.

"The challenge is to keep pace with how quickly the definitions and perceptions of these technologies change," said the department's ICT manager Hamish Hill. A

review of future ICT surveys is on the cards, he says.

New Zealand is part of a global trend in the proliferation of high-tech goods and services. Global spending on consumer electronic devices, for example, is projected to reach US$1.1 trillion this year, the Los Angeles Times reported in January, citing

the Consumer Electronics Association.

New Zealand's $1.6 billion of information and communication technology exports last year included household appliances and medical goods, security systems and climate control devices. Exports sales were up 4 percent compared with 2010.

Still, Hill says the results of the latest survey haven't been thrown off track by the inclusion of more non-traditional products and services.

"If you look at more traditional ICT goods, like computers and cell phones, the sales have still gone up so the survey is reflecting the overall growth," he says.

'Traditional' communication services such as cell and fixed phone connections generated $7 billion in 2012. The value of Internet connections was $1.3 billion, up 44 percent from 2010.

The survey shows a rise in sales volumes - thanks to smart phones and tablets - which is offsetting a fall in prices of products such as laptops.

However sales of ICT audio-visual goods such as flat-screen televisions and Blu-ray players fell 5 percent to $1.1 billion, even as the volume sold increased.

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