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Where's The Growth?

12/19/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
TWICE: What were the growth categories in component electronics and speakers in 2011? And what do you expect the growth categories will be in 2012?

Johnston: With technology continuing to trickle down, there will be significant growth in the entrylevel receiver category. We are trending up over $600 from 2010, but we believe that the market will end up on the decline. Our growth has come from a strengthened product line and stronger relationships we are building with specialty retailers through our Elite brand.

We also see growth in the wireless speaker category. Because of Airplay and Sonos-type products, the wireless Airplay speaker business is growing and will continue to grow through next year. Whole-home audio is something that consumers are very interested, particularly the ability to connect their iPhone anywhere in their house.

Bailey: For the past 10 years, the iPod/iTunes revolution brought people closer to their music than ever before. We are now seeing consumers looking for simple, intuitive ways to enjoy better sounding music from their iTunes library – and easy ways to share it with their families and friends. This translates into good sales opportunities for network-capable AVRs, audio components, iPod speaker docks, headphones and various other networked products.

The soundbar category, in particular, continues to be a major growth engine for Boston Acoustics. We have expanded the line to include virtual-surround processing and other technologies that enhance the listening experience.

DiComo: Active soundbars are a hot category. Their space-saving nature and ease of set up and use make them a compelling choice for consumers across a wide range of price points. We see price points moving in both directions — as always there will be a rush to the bottom, but at the same time there is a segment of luxury consumer who will be served by high-priced, premium performance bars.

Ultra-thin TVs are an important factor in both component speaker sales and active soundbars. More and more TVs are ultra thin, and as the TVs get slimmer, the sound quality of the built-in speakers gets worse. At Definitive we have a mantra – “the thinner the TV, the worse the sound” — which motivated us to develop a line of six ultra-thin speakers, including two component (passive) soundbars. In 2012 we will introduce an ultraslim fully powered premium soundbar to further address the growing popularity of active simple solutions with an ultra-slim form factor.

Feinstein: There is no question that soundbar-type speakers continue to be a strong growth area. Customers are telling us that quality sound and lack of clutter/ ease-of-installation-placement are of prime importance. We’re seeing fewer dedicated home theaters or basement conversions than was the case in the past. Most sound systems are being integrated into the main living area, where the primary TV lives — in those cases, placement ease and appearance are prime requirements, on a par with sound quality.

Wasek: Consumers are always looking to get the most bang for their buck, and the audio category is certainly not an exception. As these products become more and more feature rich, consumers have more options to look at that suit their lifestyle. Midprice-level A/V receivers fared very well this year, and a lot had to do with the access to additional Internet radio services and the ability to use smartphones to control these devices. We expect that trend to continue into 2012.
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