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The worldwide electronics industry’s sales are expected to grow an anemic 4 percent to $1.1o5 billion in 2013, according to a forecast by the Consumer Electronics Industry and the market research firm GfK.

Even so, that’s better than the 1 percent drop in 2012, when the industry hit $1.058 billion in sales, said Sean Koenig, director of industry analyst at the CEA, speaking at a press event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today. By comparison, the industry grew 11 percent in 2010 and shrank 9 percent in 2009.

Devices such as smartphones and tablets are driving growth for 2013, but the slower than usual rate of growth is due to slow economic growth in developed nations, said Steve Bambridge, analyst at GfK.

“Consumers have a an exuberance for tablets,” Koenig said. “A lot of that is coming at the expense of PCs.”

In the U.S., about 44 percent of homes have tablets, up from 1 percent in July 2010. Smartphones are in about 55 percent of homes, compared to 36 percent in July 2010. In 2013, the growth rates for both tablets and smartphones will be about even.

Mature markets declined 4 percent in 2012, while developing markets grew 3 percent. In 2013, mature markets will grow 1 percent, while developing markets will grow 9 percent.

Western Europe is weak, with the market shrinking 7 percent in 2012. But the Middle East and Asia are bouncing back. One growth driver: smartphones are less than $100 in the Chinese market.

Low gross domestic product growth in the U.S. can be blamed for some of the slowdown. The U.S. is expected to grow only 2 percent in 2013, Bambridge said. Pending government spending cuts could have a weakening effect on the overall market.

About 29 percent of consumers say they will buy tablets, smartphones or MP3 music players. And of those, 25 percent are buying the devices for gaming.

Koenig said that within this decade, the paperless office may finally arrive.

“Markets like printing are evaporating,” he said.

[Image credits: Dean Takahashi, Flickr Creative Commons: David Berkowitz]