Forecast: Consumer electronics

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A consistent flow of cool, high-tech gadgets and hot new video-game releases will ensure strong spending in the second half for consumer electronics and video-game software and hardware.

Consumer electronics giants Sony Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Thomson Multimedia have a raft of new products in the pipeline, from big-screen and flat-screen TVs to portable digital communicators. An uptick in advertising and marketing expenditures is expected for personal computers, where researcher Gartner Group forecasts a 5.4% increase in PC sales for 2002.

Gateway, Apple Computer, and Dell Computer Corp. have tried to maintain ad spending and have had a consistent presence on the airwaves even in the face of the sour consumer mood. All three are expected to stay the course, indicating flat spending. The new Hewlett-Packard Co. is a wild card.

Microsoft Corp.'s prep for the Xbox's second sales season and its launch of the Xbox Live online gaming network will stoke its marketing and advertising budget. Nintendo of America, meanwhile, has said it will spend 25% more on marketing during its fiscal year that began April 1, and market leader Sony Computer Entertainment America will increase its spending modestly behind games for PlayStation 2.

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