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Audio Sales Show Portable, Component Role Reversal

Factory-level sales of portable audio hit a wall in September and the third quarter overall, but sales of home audio components surged during both periods in a role reversal that component suppliers hope will continue, CEA statistics show.

Portable-audio sales slipped by 4.1 percent in September to $437.7 million, and by 1.3 percent in the third quarter to $1.17 billion. Meanwhile component audio sales surged 121.5 percent for the month to $118.7 million and 39.2 percent for the quarter to $293.3 million.

All told, combined sales of home, portable and car audio rose 0.7 percent to $863.9 million for the month, slipped 1.3 percent to $2.23 billion for the quarter, but rose 9.9 percent to $6.92 billion for the year to date, CEA’s statistics show.

This year’s component surge, coupled with declining home audio system sales, could cause full-year component sales to exceed full-year home-system sales for the first time in 10 years if trends continue, based on seasonally adjusted annualized selling rates through September.

Remarkably, the component segment was the only audio segment to grow in September and the quarter, underscoring a remarkable turnaround for a segment that shrank in nine of the previous 10 years and fell a jaw-dropping 20.3 percent in 2005.

Home audio, nonetheless, has a long way to go before challenging portable’s dominance. Year-to-date portable sales exceeded home-component sales by 4.7 times and exceeded total home audio sales (components and systems combined) by 2.4 times.

(For more on audio sales see story at

September Q3 Audio Sales