Worldwide demand for home audio devices continues to gather momentum, with the category outperforming the wider CE market and on track to finish 2016 at 102 million units shipped and close to $11 billion in trade value, according to the latest market report from Futuresource Consulting.
“Over the last few years home audio has been the go-to growth category for CE, but 2016 is pushing expectations even further,” says Rasika D’Souza, a senior market analyst at Futuresource. “Against a backdrop of activity from soundbars and Bluetooth speakers, and the success of Amazon’s Echo and Alexa, it’s been a record year that is also building firm foundations for future growth.
“Market expansion has been driven by rising consumer interest in music streaming services and music playback on smartphones, with both applying upward pressure on the market for a wide range of wireless audio products. We’ve also seen the beginnings of a market transformation, with voice interaction poised to place the audio industry at the centre of the smart home revolution.”
During 2016, voice personal assistant speakers have taken centre stage due to the success of Amazon Echo and the debut of Google Home speakers. The category will quickly be extended, as Microsoft teams up with soon-to-be-Samsung-owned Harman to provide a speaker powered by Windows 10’s Cortana: just one of the Cortana hardware solutions that Microsoft will likely unveil in 2017.
“Samsung’s imminent acquisition of Harman will see the South Korean CE vendor leap from its number five position to become the leading home audio vendor in revenues,” says Simon Bryant, associate director at Futuresource. “It won’t be a surprise if Apple turns up to the party as well, with its own take on the VPA* category during the first half of 2017.”
Despite all the commotion created by the arrival of VPAs, Bluetooth speakers still account for 80 percent of the wireless speaker market and are expected to remain a popular solution, particularly in emerging markets, primarily due to their lower cost. In addition, soundbars continue on a growth curve, with Futuresource forecasts showing a rise of 15 percent in 2016, on track to finish the year at 16 million units shipped.
With such a flurry of strategic activity in the audio landscape, and the likes of Amazon, Google and Samsung all making waves, the signs point towards a solid sector performance in 2016 and a thrilling 2017 ahead.