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Emergence of the CE Gadget Geekette Market

CNET reports that out of $107.2 billion spent on consumer-electronics technology in 2005, men accounted for 54 percent, or $57.9 billion worth, of those purchases, and women took care of 46 percent, or $49.3 billion, according to market research firm The NPD Group.

That's an 18 percent increase in spending by females compared with the previous year, when women rang up $41.9 billion in gadget purchases. Men spent about the same amount in 2004 as they did in 2005.

"It's increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. "The idea that people go online to go shopping -- that makes the computer purchase something of a household decision. It's not just guys in charge of the gadgets."

Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century female, gadget makers are taking note. Major companies including Apple Computer, Motorola, Eastman Kodak, Sony and Nintendo are giving products like cell phones, USB flash drives and handheld game devices bursts of color and graceful lines, and featuring women prominently in ads. Some designers, meanwhile, are developing products with an exclusively female audience in mind.

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