The global home audio market has broken the USD 13 billion barrier in 2017. The market continues to climb, with hardware shipments increasing by 23 percent in 2017, and new emerging product categories likes wireless speakers and soundbars continuing to propel the business. It is not just shipments that are performing well. Last year’s revenues powered through the USD 13 billion barrier for the first time, finishing 2017 close to the USD 14 billion mark. And there is plenty more punch left in the home audio hardware category, with the forecasts showing value growth out to 2021 and shipments continuing to grow beyond that.
In the wireless speaker segment, smart speakers are leading the charge. The United States of America still accounts for the lion’s share of global demand, though interest in China has been growing rapidly since Q4 2017. There is growth in multiple ownership, further developments in voice platforms, and consumer usage extending beyond music. Smart speakers are used for reminders and alarms, acting as kitchen assistants, delivering entertainment content for kids and a range of other applications, all having a positive impact on uptake. Voice is just beginning to emerge as a feature in soundbars too, with a handful of brands launching products at price points under the USD 400 sweet spot.
Object-oriented sound is becoming increasingly important in soundbars. The technology takes the sound effects in a movie soundtrack and digitally moves them around a three-dimensional space, affording viewers a cinema-like sound experience in their homes. As with so many things, content availability is key to the success of object-oriented sound. One cannot develop customer awareness and drive meaningful growth without it. But its future sounds bright, as the technology is now supported by Sky, Netflix, DirectTV, China Telecom, and many others.