TWICE: What were the growth categories in
component electronics and speakers in 2011? And
what do you expect the growth categories will be
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
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
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.