At CES 2016 in Las Vegas we are sure to see that wireless connectivity is rapidly becoming a standard fit on a wide range of audio devices. This is a reaction to the consumer demand for both the playout of music from smartphones and from streamed music services such as Spotify.
Futuresource research reveals that over 80% of the 86 million home audio devices predicted to sell in 2015 will offer wireless streaming, rising to virtually 100% by 2019. Meanwhile wireless as a feature within headphones is set to double during the period from this year’s 15%.
Bluetooth is the predominant wireless protocol, accounting for over 85% of wireless headphones and nearly 90% of wireless speakers in 2015. Consumers are familiar with Bluetooth, everyone has it on their smartphone and it is easy to use. Streaming has made the once mighty audio dock almost redundant and people are now beginning to discover the benefits of wireless headphones.
Bluetooth speakers are one of the fastest growing product categories across the consumer electronics sector, with sales predicted to surge by 68% this year and by an average of 36% through to 2019.There are products and prices to suit every budget, ranging from $10 to $700 and beyond, whilst entry level brands such as iFrogz and HMDX vie with high end audio brands such as Kef and B&W for shelf space.
Soundbars too are a success story, with global sales expected to approach 14 million units this year, worth $2.4 billion in trade value. Whilst in the past they have been bought almost exclusively as a device to improve the sound of flat panel TVs, the inclusion of Bluetooth streaming has made soundbars even more desirable as this enables consumers to use their soundbar as way to play out music from their Smartphone. 84% of soundbars that shipped during the first nine months of 2015 offered Bluetooth streaming.
Whilst 87% of the wireless speaker market this year is set to comprise of Bluetooth-only devices, a further 13% of sales, feature Wi-Fi. These are mostly targeted at the multi-room audio market. Sonos has pioneered this category, although multiple brands have made recent forays into this area with the belief that it represents a lucrative opportunity to sell multiple, relatively high end speakers. A multi-room speaker cost on average $244 during Q3 in the US, much higher than a Bluetooth-only speaker at $90.
There is undoubtedly a great opportunity here; in the recent ‘Futuresource Shopper Journey’ the consumer research study indicated that 30% of people who intend to buy a wireless speaker would like to play the same music simultaneously in multiple rooms. However, there are so many options available now, relying on various, often incompatible, wireless technologies that consumers can be confused becoming obviously paralysed by choice. It will take time for the market to shake down to create offers that consumers understand.
Futuresource research shows that over half of smartphone users in Western Europe and North America use their device to listen to music, yet under 40% of these play their music out to an external speaker, instead relying on the integral speaker or on headphones. This opportunity – and the growth in music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music – will ensure that the sales of audio hardware with wireless features will be a strong growth area for years to come.
Information in this release has been drawn from four reports issued by Futuresource Consulting –
- Home Audio Market Report
- Home Audio Quarterly Tracker Q3
- Shopper Journey
- Living with Digital
This article and infographic were reposed with permission from Futuresource Consulting and originally appears here.