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Audio’s Big Dog Is Still Portable: CEA

Arlington, Va. — Portable audio is still the big dog in the audio industry, according to Consumer Electronics Association statistics that show factory-level portable audio sales rising in May by 48.1 percent to drive up total audio industry sales by 19.8 percent to $792.2 million.

For the year-to-date, portable audio’s sales gain of 50.8 percent to $2.19 billion was almost entirely responsible for industry growth of 15.8 percent to $3.79 billion.

Also in May, home systems posted their first, though modest, gain of the year following steep double-digit percentage declines in earlier months. An earlier surge in home component sales petered out in May, the statistics also show.

Here’s how each audio segment fared in May and the year-to-date:

Portable audio: The MP3-dominated category, which includes boomboxes and tabletop home radios, maintained a torrid growth pace in the first five months of the year to hit $2.19 billion, a 50.8 percent gain, only slightly slower than the 66.4 percent gain posted during the first five months of 2005.

May’s 48.1 percent gain to $427.8 million, however, was slightly lower than the double-digit percentage gains posted in three of the four prior months.

Home systems: The segment’s first increase of the year was a modest 4.6 percent gain to $107.8 million. Despite the modest gain, year-to-date sales were off 27.1 percent to $328.6 million because of prior-month declines ranging from 24.3 percent to 52 percent.

Home components: Sales posted a meager 1.8 percent gain to $87.8 million after rising at double-digit rates during three of the four previous months and falling modestly in March. Year-to-date sales were up 8.2 percent to $416.5 million.

Total home audio: Combined system and component sales were up a mere 3.3 percent in May to $195.6 million and down 10.8 percent for the year-to-date to $745.1 million.

Aftermarket autosound: Sales went into reverse for the fourth month out of five, dropping 7.7 percent in May to $168.7 million and 13.1 percent for the year-to-date to $856.2 million. Satellite radio tuners, including transportable plug-and-play tuners, are included in the statistics but were not broken out separately.

Total audio: Combined sales of home, portable and car audio soared 19.8 percent in May to $792.2 million and for the year-to-date by 15.8 percent to $3.79 billion.