Audio hardware had a “record-breaking” 2016 and continues to outpace the overall CE industry, according to market research firm Futuresource Consulting.
Global Q4 sales grew 28 percent year on year to $10.2 billion, the firm said, driven by home audio and headphones. Home audio grew 33 percent year over year — Futuresource didn’t specify which products fall under this umbrella — while headphones grew 24 percent. Continued growth through 2017 is expected by the company.
Other growth drivers listed by Futuresource include:
*the popularity of music streaming services;
*the entry of Amazon’s Echo and Dot into more countries;
*the U.S. launch of Google Home; and
*widespread consumer adoption of wireless headphones.
The Echo and Dot accounted for approximately 30 percent of Q4 wireless speaker sales in the U.S., said Zlata Jelisejeva, Futuresource research analyst. Apple’s removal of the 3.5mm port on the iPhone 7, meanwhile, accelerated wireless headphone sales, which represented 49 percent of overall Q4 headphones sales in the U.S.
It wasn’t sunshine and roses for all audio categories, however. Hi-fi systems, loudspeakers, separates and soundbars all decreased in 2016.
As for what retailers can expect going forward, D’Souza advised awareness of voice personal assistant speakers and wireless headphones.