As goes consumer electronics, so goes electronic systems contractors. And things are starting to go well. Consumer confidence in the economy increased by half a point this past summer, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and CNET. “Individuals remain concerned about their own financial wellbeing,” says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for CEA, “but the multi-month slide in consumer sentiment, which touched all-time lows in the index, appears to be subsiding.”

Consumer confidence in technology decreased slightly. The CEA-CNET Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, is down 2.2 points from July but is still 2.1 percent higher than the same time last year. “The good news for technology companies is that consumers are more open to spending on technology today than they were during the same period last year,” said DuBravac.

The consumer electronics industry will exceed initial revenue projections for 2010, with growth of 3 percent over 2009 and overall shipment revenues of $174.9 billion in the United States, according to the CEA. The semi-annual U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast also projects that industry shipment revenues will climb four percent to an all-time high of more than $182 billion by 2011.

“Innovation in the CE industry is driving consumer enthusiasm, orchestrating a turnaround for our industry and bolstering the overall U.S. economy,” says CEA President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Shapiro. “The response to innovative new products like tablet computers and 3D displays, and continued growth of other product categories, illustrate that consumers love technology. The freedom to innovate delights consumers, sustains our industry and strengthens the economy.”

The latest forecast increases CEA’s estimates for 2010 shipment revenues, last updated in January, by more than $9 billion. The CE industry will see 3 percent growth in 2010, up from an earlier projection of .3 percent. Much of the growth across the industry can be attributed to a handful of product categories — 3D TVs, smartphones, Blu-ray players, eReaders and mobile computing solutions, such as tablets — that will contribute billions of dollars to the industry’s bottom line this year.

“The January edition of the forecast was cautiously optimistic about the industry’s return to growth this year,” adds Steve Koenig, CEA’s director of industry analysis. “Despite a relatively sluggish first half, these innovative product categories have generated a great deal of consumer interest. As a result, we see a stronger second half demand unfolding, and we anticipate a robust holiday quarter.” The mobile computing category is expected to have a strong 2010 and become the primary revenue driver for the CE industry by 2011. CEA projects that mobile computing, which includes laptops, netbooks and tablet computers, will reach more than $26 billion in shipment revenues by next year. Most of the growth in the computing category will be driven by tablet PCs as more companies enter the marketplace.

As a category, wireless handsets are also seeing continued growth. CEA projects that by 2011, wireless handsets will contribute $26 billion to the industry’s bottom line. Smartphones continue to be the key driver, with more than 54 million units expected to ship in 2010, an increase of nearly 31 percent. By 2011, more than 66 million smartphones will ship to dealers, generating $19.6 billion in revenue.

3D shipments will increase 2.1 million and 3D revenues are expected to hit $2.7 billion.