German digital hardware sales record

Flat-screen TVs make up about 40% of sales increase

COLOGNE, Germany -- Recession or no, German consumers haven't lost their taste for high-tech toys.

Sales of flat-screen televisions, set-top decoders, game consoles and other digital hardware jumped 4.3% to a record 12.3 billion euros ($17 billion) last year, German consumer electronics association BITKOM announced Wednesday.

Flat-screen TVs, most of them HD-equipped, made up about 40% of that increase. Big sporting events, in particular the Summer Olympics in Beijing and the European Soccer Championships were a key factor in driving demand, BITKOM vp Achim Berg said.

Despite rising unemployment and sickly economic forecasts, Berg is still predicting strong growth for 2009. He estimates that the German market for digital set-top boxes and satellite receivers, for example, will grow 15% next year.

The rosy figures come ahead of Las Vegas' Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest consumer technology trade show, which kicks off Thursday.