Maturing Dock Sales

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How did sales fare in units and dollars in 2011 compared to 2010, and what is the forecast for 2011?

Patricia Schoenberg, Spectra:

Generally we think there is still growth in docking speakers if only due to the big quantities being sold of Apple iPhones and iPads in particular. 2011 sales may not exceed 2010 sales due to the economy, plus a trend for retailers to reduce space, and number of models, for a perceived mature category. Some retailers have also taken away space to have more available for “new technologies.”

Raleigh Wilson, Altec Lansing:

Lower price points are saturating the market right now due to the poor economic environment. In general, we feel that 2011 is the year that the docking category has fully matured. Historically, iOS devices have driven this market segment, and now over half of the market [for mobile devices] is Android and other smartphone platforms. Now, the drivers toward new purchases are user design preferences, improved sound quality, and more functionality.

Roy Carpenter, Philips:

Docking retail sales have declined 7 percent through September YTD for both units and dollars, according to NPD, mainly due to softness in the clock radio and boombox/radio segments. Segments such as multimedia speaker sales remained steady (+2 percent). Full-year 2011 performance should improve as cyclical trends should trigger positive growth in the fourth quarter versus the year-ago period. Other growth drivers include:

• an increase in average prices for docking-related products as AirPlay technology becomes more widely adopted/available;

• the expansion of the category to include Androidcompatible docks; Philips has just introduced four such docks to the category; and

• finally, iPod market maturity that should be offset by the continued growth in iPhone and iPad sales.

Pia Chon, iLuv:

We achieved consistent growth in year-to-year sales of audio docks in both units and dollars in 2011, and there are multiple contributing factors. The continued popularity of the iPhone, the phenomenal success of the iPad, and the whole tablet category in general have been driving forces behind demand.

Tablets have created the ever-growing need for a new category of docks that function as audio/video/productivity hubs … [and] the launch of iPhone 4S also provided another boost for audio docks and accessories.

As tablets and smartphones continue to thrive, we believe that consumers will gravitate toward docks and accessories that are compatible with several devices, as opposed to device-specific items.


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