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Audio On A Roll Smartphones Without Jacks Driving Headphone Sales

2018 is shaping up to be a good year for audio with headphones still delivering growth according to GFK with voice assisted devices set to grow the market even further in the second half. also growing is manufacturers selling direct.

In the Asia Pacific region headphones are still proving popular with global growth for the period January to June 2018 coming in at 26%.

Total global sales were $7.5 billion, compared to the first half of last year, this is an increase of five percent.

GFK said that there is still growth potential in smart devices with embedded voice assistants or high-performance features that enhance the listening experience set to lead to upgrade sales.

B&O Beoplay H8i headphones

Total combined revenues of headphones and mobile stereo headsets grew from January to June 2018 by 26 percent, close to $3.4 billion. In total, 59 million units were sold. Europe and the Asia Pacific region accounted for more than 85 percent of the global turnover.

Devices with Bluetooth technology grew their sales value by 80 percent and stood for 60 percent of the global turnover from headphones and headsets, up from 42 percent the year before.

The research group claims that because smartphone manufacturers are removing the headphone jack from their devices, Bluetooth enabled headphones and headsets are expected to be in big demand.

Independent of the connectivity features, devices combining advanced technologies like active noise cancelling and true wireless, and where the headphones consist of two separate ear pieces, witnessed huge sales value growth.

APAC was at the forefront of this technology in 2017 and kept its leading role in this segment.

The region accounted for more than 75 percent of the turnover with these products from January to June 2018. The advent of the high-performing headphones and headsets for €150 and more, manifested in a 15 percent increase on the average price.

Multiroom audio keeps growing

Multiroom devices, which allow playing different songs in different rooms, grew by eleven percent. This accounted for 23 percent of the total turnover of audio home systems, radio devices, docking/mini speakers, tuners, amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers.

The technology is becoming increasingly important, considering that major tech companies are now rolling out firmware updates to support multiroom capabilities.

From streaming music to talking with the device

Devices that stream audio contents via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are the standard today: 71 percent of the sales value originated from these products from January to June 2018.

Markus Kick, from GfK said “In 2018 we are seeing more and more audio home systems, mini speakers and soundbars with embedded voice assistant. These devices increased their sales value with triple-digit growth rates and accounted for six percent of the sales value of the streaming devices in the first half of 2018. In the last months we have seen more and more products using a detour, voice control via an additional smart speaker, to be integrated in smart ecosystems. Time will tell, whether this solution will prevail or whether it is just a bridging technology.”

Connectivity features are becoming increasingly important in the domain of in-car electronics as well. Bluetooth capable devices generated more than 50 percent of the turnover, with more and more products featuring technologies to easily connect and operate a smartphone in the car.

Online retail on the rise

In the first six months of 2018, a total of 23 percent of the global audio sales value came from online sales, compared to 21 percent in the same period last year with manufacturers accounting for a percentage of sales.

Strong online sales can be found in Europe APAC and Australia with these Countries contributing to 27 percent and 24 percent online share respectively.

Digital radios still popular with consumers

In the first six months of 2018, radio sets* with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) accounted for sales of $385 million, a decrease of three percent compared to same period in 2017.

While turnover with digital radios for the home shrunk, car radios featuring DAB have shown an over-average growth of six percent. The reasons are twofold: on the one hand, customers voluntarily opt for such a device to have a wider choice of radio stations. On the other hand, countries like Norway stopped the FM radio signal in favour of DAB, hence customers are forced to buy a new device. The UK is currently planning to do the same.