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Wireless brings new meaning to connected home audio

Posted: 16 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? home audio? wireless soundbar? AV receiver? speaker?

The latest report from IHS Technology is without a doubt music to the ears of manufacturers of wirelessly connected audio devices. According to the market analyst, annual shipments of connected audio products such as wireless speakers, wireless soundbars and connected AV receivers are expected to grow at a CAGR of 88 per cent, from 1.5 million units in 2010 to about 66 million units in 2018.

The popularity of mobile devices and shifting consumer habits in media consumption are increasing the demand for wirelessly connected audio devices, as well as changing the home audio landscape, added the market research firm.

Total wirelessly-connected home audio device shipments

Within this composite group of products, connected soundbars and wireless speakers are expected to provide noteworthy growth, not just within home audio, but also within the overall consumer electronics market. Combined shipments are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 94 per cent over the same period.

"Growing penetration of tablets and smartphones, combined with an ongoing shift in consumer media consumption preferences toward those devices and streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Deezer, are collectively driving a behavioural shift in how people listen to music inside and outside their homes," said Paul Erickson, senior analyst for IHS Technology. "Consumers are seeking ways to wirelessly play audio from their mobile devices on speakers in the room they're in, in multiple rooms in a household, and on speakers carried with them while on the go. This geographically diverse need will drive strong global growth in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected speakers over the next few years."

"While the whole wireless speakers category is forecast to grow rapidly, network-connected multi-room speaker systems is the small-but-growing subcategory to watch," Erickson continued. "Heavyweights Samsung, LG, Sony, Bose, Denon, DTS and Qualcomm are all entering the market, with products or platforms designed to take on a rapidly growing segment initially popularised by Sonos."

Although prices for connected multi-room speakers remain high for the average consumer, over the next few years this segment will qualitatively redefine the home-audio-system concept in the consumer psyche. The market for these types of speakers is expected to grow at an already-high CAGR of 112 per cent, between 2010 and 2018. However, it is possible that the market could grow even faster, depending on the success of marketing campaigns from major consumer electronics companies Sony, Samsung and LG, which would drive large-scale mainstream exposure and traction for this previously niche segment of the audio market.

"The decades-old traditional monolithic audio system concept is simply becoming an increasingly niche proposition, primarily for serious enthusiasts," Erickson said. "Over the next few years, wirelessly connected audio, and in particular network-connected speakers, will render the traditional wired audio system an obsolete concept for consumers. Wireless multi-room audio systems will soon be what comes to consumers' minds when they think about home audio."

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