Demand for soundbars, streaming services and wireless speakers (particularly the kind you can talk to), helped the home audio category outpace the broader CE market this year, Futuresource reported.
According to the U.K. tech consultancy, worldwide shipments of home audio devices are on track to finish 2016 at 102 million units, representing a wholesale value of close to $11 billion.
“Over the last few years home audio has been the go-to growth category for CE, but 2016 is pushing expectations even further,” observed senior market analyst Rasika D’Souza. “Market expansion has been driven by rising consumer interest in music streaming services and music playback on smartphones, with both applying upward pressure on the market for a wide range of wireless audio products.
“We’ve also seen the beginnings of a market transformation, with voice interaction poised to place the audio industry at the center of the smart home revolution,” D’Souza said.
While Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers took center stage this year, FutureSource expects the voice personal assistant category (VPA) to rapidly expand as Microsoft teams up with soon-to-be-Samsung-acquired Harman to provide a speaker powered by Windows 10’s Cortana.
“Samsung’s imminent acquisition of Harman will see the South Korean CE vendor leap from its No. 5 position to become the leading home audio vendor in revenues,” predicted associate director Simon Bryant. “It won’t be a surprise if Apple turns up to the party as well, with its own take on the VPA category during the first half of 2017.”
Despite the hoopla surrounding VPAs, Bluetooth speakers still account for 80 percent of the wireless speaker market worldwide, and are expected to remain a popular solution due to their lower cost, the company said.
In addition, soundbars continue on a growth curve, with Futuresource data showing a 15 percent increase in unit volume this year, on track to finish 2016 at 16 million units shipped.
In other Futuresource news, the consultancy will hold a CES 2017 wrap-up webinar on Friday, Jan. 13, from noon- 1 p.m. EST, moderated by TWICE editor in chief John Laposky. Complimentary registration is available here.