Tech gift wish lists 2019 vs 2009: Survey shows changing desires

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) did a holiday-related technology survey this year – and has done similar surveys for the past 25 years. As such, they were in the prime position to deliver a comparison list this year to the same sort of data from a decade ago. Back then, things were different. Back then, we wanted an MP3 player in our Christmas stocking.

To put things in perspective, back in 2009, Netflix hadn't yet moved from DVD/Blu-ray rentals to streaming content. Back in 2009, Apple went from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS! Samsung hadn't yet released their first "Samsung Galaxy S" smartphone – Android was only just launched in the year 2008.

Hardware Gifts for the holidays

Per the Consumer Technology Association's (CTA) 16th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, the 2009 top tech wish list read as follows. Note the difference in number 2 on the list VS what we've got here in 2019, below.

CTA's 2009 Tech Wish List top 5:

5. Digital camera

4. Video Game System

3. Flat panel TV

2. Portable MP3/digital media player

1. Notebook or laptop PC

The difference between the number 1 entry above and the number 1 entry below has mostly to do with the survey questions wording – in effect "Laptops" and what's listed as "Notebook or laptop PC" are the same thing. Back in 2009, it was still sorta crazy to expect that you'd get a phone (or want a phone) for a gift for the holidays.

Instead, it was more common to ask for an MP3 player – what was already known commonly then as "an iPod" thanks to Apple's successful marketing of their classic design. That brand name was so powerful that it was a key element in Steve Jobs' first press presentation of the iPhone in 2007.

CTA's 2019 Tech Wish List top 5:

5. Wearables

4. Tablets

3. TVs

2. Smartphones

1. Laptops

Per the CTA, "186 million U.S adults (74%) plan to purchase a tech gift this year" for the holidays. Of that, the most massive changes VS last year (2018) include Smart Home Devices and Wireless Earbuds.

Biggest Changes

• Smart Home Devices (decline)

• Wireless Earbuds (rise)

Per the CTA release on the study, "CTA expects a robust 11.3 million units to ship, a 42% decline over last year as more devices like TVs incorporate digital assistants." Wireless earbuds unit sales are expected to rise significantly VS the 2018 holiday season with "eight million units expected to sell – a 45% increase over 2018."

Subscription Services and Video Games

While not part of the top 5 most-wanted tech gifts, it would appear that subscription services are on the rise as a potential hot gift. Per the CTA's survey, seven out of every ten U.S. adults plan to purchase content-related gifts this year. That, they say, includes streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, but also "video games."

They suggest that "videogame discs" account for 43% of that 71% of US adults (7/10). Meanwhile streaming or download entertainment services account for 39% of the content gift category. For more information on gifts and what's going down this holiday season, take a peek at our Gift Guide collection right this minute!