Audio Hardware Is Outpacing The Industry

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Growth is being primarily driven by headphones and home audio

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.

Hot Products

Tivoli Audio Model One Digital

Tivoli Audio’s Model One Digital features the same design as the company’s Model One AM/FM radio, first introduced in 2000, but it adds in a multi-operational dial, Digital Audio Broadcast, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. Amazon Alexa integration is planned for later this year. Features include a high-res screen display, wood cabinets and fabric speaker grilles. A companion app enables users to connect the Model One with other compatible Tivoli speakers for multiroom listening. The device measures 4.5 inches by 8.7 inches by 5.5 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds. Suggested retail is $299.

Grace Digital Mondo+

Grace Digital’s Mondo+ is hailed by the company as the first Internet radio with built-in Chromecast. It lets users stream audio from over 100 apps — including Spotify, iHeartradio and Google Play Music — by tapping the Cast button on a Chromecast-enabled portable device. A multiroom audio feature groups multiple Mondo+ radios, enabling simultaneous streaming from a single portable device. Consumers with Google Home devices can also use voice control to play, pause and skip on the Mondo+.

The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radio features a class D digital 12-watt amplifier, 3-inch woofer and 1-inch drivers. A 3.5-inch color display shows playlists, stations and album art, while a USB port allows it to serve as a power bank or play music from a storage drive. It also has a built-in clock and alarm with up to 10 presets, a 3.5mm port, aux-in and RCA stereo line out. Grace Digital is promoting the speaker on Kickstarter, where it’s available for a $149 pre-sale price.

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