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
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.