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Sound Sales Booming But Not In Specialist Channel

Sound gear is proving a money spinner for retailers with global sales of audio hardware growing 28% in 2016.

The only problem is that a lot of that revenue went to mass retailers Vs the specialist audio channel driven primarily by the growth in demand for networked audio products.

According to Futuresource research, Global Q4 sales grew 28 percent year on year to $10.2 billion, driven primarily by a new generation of home audio and headphones.

Home audio grew 33 percent year over year — Futuresource didn’t specify which products fall under this umbrella — while headphones grew 24 percent.

Continued growth through 2017 is expected by the company.

Other growth drivers listed by Futuresource include:
*the popularity of music streaming services;
*the entry of Amazon’s Echo and Dot into more countries such as Australia.
*the launch of Google Home into selected markets; and
*widespread consumer adoption of wireless headphones.

The Amazon Echo and Dot which has not been launched in Australia accounted for approximately 30 percent of Q4 wireless speaker sales in the U.S., said Zlata Jelisejeva, Futuresource research analyst.

Apple’s removal of the 3.5mm port on the iPhone 7, meanwhile, accelerated wireless headphone sales, which represented 49 percent of overall Q4 headphones sales.

Related: Headphone Sound Quality Busts Price in Consumer Priority

In the wireless speaker category, Amazon moved up from fifth position during Q1- Q3 2016 to become the number two brand in Q4 2016 for units shipped worldwide. The online retailer is expected to launch a wide range of sound products in Australia when they launch later this year.

The wireless speaker segment remains highly concentrated, with a few top audio brands accounting for nearly half of all unit sales, they include Sonos, Heos and at the top end Bluesound.

It wasn’t sunshine and roses for all audio categories, however. Hi-fi systems, loudspeakers, separates and soundbars all decreased in 2016.

As for what retailers, can expect going forward, D’Souza advised awareness of voice personal assistant speakers and wireless headphones.