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Speaker Docks Up In 2008; AC-Only Models Take Lead

Unit sales of MP3-player speaker docks continued to rise in 2008 despite the severe economic downturn, and the majority of unit sales came in AC-only models for the first time, various market-research reports show.

Dollar volume, however, declined slightly, according to one study.

Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) statistics show MP3 speaker-dock sales grew at the factory level by 14.8 percent to $995 million in 2008. For 2009, the association forecasts growth of 11.9 percent to break the $1 billion mark for the first time with $1.11 billion in volume.

Unit sales accelerated at a faster pace, having grown an estimated 35 percent in 2008 to 8.25 million units and forecast to grow 28 percent in 2009 to 10.6 million units, CEA statistics show.

CEA’s figures include iPod-docking clock radios but exclude home theater in a box systems (HTiBs) and compact systems sold with iPod docks. The figures also include AC/DC speaker systems that can be operated on batteries for use anywhere outside the home or office.

Sales growth was so brisk that in 2008, CEA estimates that MP3-docking speakers became the second largest home audio category as measured by factory-level dollar volume. Factory-level dollar sales of an estimated $995 million were exceeded only by component-audio sales of $1.28 billion, which includes $131 million in multi-room-audio electronics such as speaker switchers, multi-room receivers, and in-wall keypads. HTiB sales came in third at $853 million, followed by compact stereo sales of $229 million and table and clock radios at $269 million.

In 2009, CEA expects docking speaker system sales to come closer to unseating components as the industry’s category sales leader.

CEA does not track factory shipments of MP3-player speaker docks by AC/DC or AC-only models, but The NPD Group does. It found unit sales of battery-operated models were flat in 2008, while unit sales of AC/DC models rose 13 percent. Dollar sales fell 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively. NPD tracks brick-and-mortar and online retailers, excluding Wal-Mart.

Because of rising AC-only unit sales, AC-only models accounted for the majority of MP3-player speaker docks for the first time in 2008, when their unit share hit 52 percent, up from 2007’s 49 percent, NPD found.

Portable Digital Player Docking Speakers

Retail Sales, 2008 vs. 200

MP3 Player Docking Speaker Systems


Although it agreed with CEA statistics showing rising 2008 unit sales of docking speakers, NPD tracked retail-level unit-sales growth of only 9 percent to 6.1 million, and it found dollar volume dropping 4 percent to $508.3 million.

On a related subject, NPD found around 42 percent of all HTiBs sold at the retail level came with included iPod docks in 2008.