How important will Apple’s AirPlay become
in the docking-speaker market?
Actual deliveries of products with AirPlay have only recently started. Perhaps not helping is how long they were announced to come before they actually did. It hasn’t become more widely available in docking speakers in large part because of cost. We all know that so far the Apple authorized module is available from a single source, with a first cost that is anywhere from $20 to $30-plus depending on quantities bought up front. There are other added component costs along with technical challenges. I don’t think I have yet seen a resounding product review at $299 to $499 retail.
AirPlay will eventually play an important role, as do many Apple-backed technologies. But for right now, consumers’ awareness is still building, and a wide diversity of products are simultaneously becoming available. We expect that as awareness grows, iOS audio accessories will begin to shift to AirPlay, and simple hard-docking speakers will shrink on all but entry-level price points, as consumers look for a charging and listening solution.
There is certainly a high potential for success since the premium segment of the docking market does very well, and these speakers provide a premium solution without wires.
While the technology was announced in 2010, products are just now reaching the marketplace. The chipset supporting the technology is currently produced by only one supplier, which has limited production.
Apple’s AirPlay is a viable option in the docking-speaker market, but Bluetooth has been more widely embraced and already has a substantial market share … we will also deliver Bluetoothenabled docks to be unveiled at CES 2012.