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INSIGHT: Networked Sound & Home Theatre Battle Looms

As the battle for the sound tastes of consumers intensifies and with Sonos on the back foot and desperately trying to raise funding a battle royal is set to unfold with brands who in the past have partnered set to take each other on.

At the same time new entrants to the sound market are now moving to a new generation of sound gear. Google is rolling out a new premium networked speaker, Apple a new range of speakers and headphones and several specialist such as the Swedish Company Audio Pro are now expanding into the premium networked sound market. The big question now is where this market is going and what will the future look like.

Analyst firm Canalys claims that the market will more than double in size to reach 225 million units by 2020, they are also tipping that the smart speaker market is set to approach an installed base of 100 million devices by the end of this year, making it almost 2.5 times bigger than at the end of 2017.

Amazon Echo devices will account for over 50 percent of the installed base in 2018, while Google’s Home series will account for 30 percent. At present, Apple’s HomePod – late entrants to the market – are trailing and will account for a meagre four percent of the 2018 base, according to Canalys.

Apple Homepod

Multi-room audio systems, which enable consumers to play songs through mobile application, are expected to pave huge opportunities for home theatre audio systems manufacturers.

Integration of home audio systems with wearable devices have compelled manufacturers in developing smart and networked speakers

Global sales of home theatre audio systems will account for revenues worth US$9 Billion in 2017, according to a report by Persistence Market Research (PMR).

PMR’s report projects the global home theatre audio systems market to register 5% CAGR through 2025. Global sales of home theatre audio systems alone are estimated to reach nearly US$ 15,000 Mn in revenues by 2025-end.

Sonos One

“Value” home theatre audio systems will remain sought after, based on price range while sales of premium home theatre audio systems will register the fastest growth in the Australian market, this bodes well for the likes of Denon, Marantz, Bowers and Wilkins and Harman.

In addition, revenues from sales of mid-range home theatre audio systems will remain comparatively higher than that of premium home theatre audio systems.

Mass retailers such as JB Hi Fi and The Good Guys along with Harvey Norman will remain the most lucrative sales channel for home theatre audio systems, expanding at the highest CAGR through 2025.

Sales of home theatre audio systems in the specialist channel are also tipped to grow by 12%.

By technology, Bluetooth home theatre audio systems will remain dominant in the market, followed by Wi-Fi.

In addition, sales of Wi-Fi and NFC home theatre audio systems are estimated to exhibit parallel expansion at 4.8% CAGR through 2025.

More than 40 Mn units of 9.1 channel & above home theatre audio systems are expected to be sold by 2025-end, based on channel type. In terms of volume, sales of 6.1 channel home theatre audio systems will comparatively lower than other channel type segments in the market.

Asia-Pacific (APAC) will remain the second largest market for home theatre audio systems after the USA, closely followed by Europe. However, sales in Europe will exhibit a comparatively higher CAGR than APAC through 2025.

The analysts claim that increasing adoption of wireless home theatre audio systems will drive market growth in Australia, Increasing adoption of wireless home theatre audio systems equipped with features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will also deliver growth for retailers.

Specialist sound dealers are witnessing a rise in technological advancements, transforming the way in which music is played. The biggest issue for these dealers is the cost of marketing to bring consumers into their stores, e/marketing and effective web site operations coupled with regular EDM campaigns are critical if the specialist channel is to stay competitive and above all a relevant place to shop say analysts.

Denon Heos Soundbar

Key market players identified in PMR’s report include Bose Corporation, Harman International Industries, Yamaha Corporation, Sony Corporation, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Pioneer Corporation, Sound United LLC, Philips, Bowers & Wilkins, Pioneer Corporation, Bang & Olufsen, Braven LC, as well as Apple, Google and Amazon.

“The US is the world leader in smart speaker adoption,” said research analyst Vincent Thielke. “Amazon and Google know the power of an ecosystem lock-in and have been engaged in a fierce price war to try and build the largest installed base.

“As Amazon’s Prime Day looms, customers expect discounts, and the company is set for a rush of shipments.”

Amazon and Google will take their devices beyond the smart home and deploy them in a range of new scenarios, he added. “Their business development teams are targeting commercial opportunities, such as hotels, offices, gyms, and airports, with initiatives such as Amazon’s Alexa for Business and Alexa for Hospitality.

“These deployments are a major opportunity for the IT channel to develop solutions and provide technical skills and services that customers may lack.”

“In the second half of 2018, sales promotions will be an important driver, as vendors anticipate a surge of shipments during the December January peak shopping period.

Google Home Max

Growth creates growth

“The rapid growth of the smart speaker installed base is itself a growth driver,” added Canalys analyst Ben Stanton. “Amazon and Google are desperate to prove the scale and reach of their platforms to developers.

“As the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant speaker installed bases grow, the companies can make a more compelling case. And as developers invest in voice and try to cash in on the creation of new experiences, smart speaker adoption will grow.

“The battle for developers’ attention is vital for Google and Amazon. It will determine the speed at which they can appeal to new demographics, move into new industry verticals, and gain traction in new countries.”

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