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Is Apple Set To Enter Home Theatre Market?

Speculation has it that Apple could be moving into home theatre market, a move that if correct could put a lot of premium networked audio brands under pressure.

What has been revealed is that Apple has acquired the patent for a ‘wireless and wired’ home theatre speaker hub from KSC Industries in late February.

The KSC Industries patent, which Apple has acquired, was first registered in 2005 and granted in 2009. This was the same period that Sonos was growing sales for their new networked speaker and Apple were looking at the TV market.

The patent details a home entertainment system where a wireless transmitter and receiver communicate with a series of surround audio channels.

If Apple does move into the home entertainment system market, it would significantly shake up the existing landscape, which is currently dominated by the likes of Sonos, Bose and Sony.

Also set to be impacted would be Danish Company Bang & Olufsen.

The move comes as Apple looks to compete in the content streaming market up against Netflix, with the Company banking on streaming and content acquisition to drive revenues across Apple TV+ and Apple Music.

This latest patent acquisition adds to Apple’s existing portfolio of patents for various home theatre system configurations.

In February 2020, Apple gained the rights to a process which was called ‘method to determine loudspeaker change of placement’ patent, which covers a system for reconfiguring a loudspeaker system.

This system has sensors that communicate with the central loudspeaker.

In December 2019 Apple was also granted the patent for an ‘un-tethered wireless audio system’, where an audio source communicates with just two loudspeakers wirelessly. According to Patently Apple, the home theatre patent was just one of 67 Apple patents published on the 25th of February.

To date Apple has struggled with their Network speaker which has to compete up against both Google and Amazon Echo speakers.

Apple’s single wireless Home Pod speaker has not been able to outsell Amazon’s Echo, which is due in part to the significantly higher price point.

In Australia a HomePod is sold for around $450-500, compared to $330 for an Echo Studio Smart Speaker.

Although HomePod increased its global shipments by almost 50% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, it still had only 4.1% market share, compared to Amazon’s 35.5% and Google’s 30%.

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