“Smart speakers continue to attract consumer interest and are leading the charge in the home audio category,” says Guy Hammett, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “The love affair shows no signs of fizzling out either, and we expect unit shipments to be up more than 90% for 2018, once the final figures have been confirmed. Activity in China has helped to boost the numbers, with our estimates showing a country growth rate of more than 600%.”
Smart speakers with screens are anticipated to generate interest, as these open new use cases using multimedia, such as an entertainment/educational device for children, kitchen and shopping assistant. Amazon Echo Show was amongst the first to be made available in 2017 and by Q4 2018 had been joined by devices from Google, JBL, Lenovo, and Facebook amongst others in Q4 2018. Many new releases are expected in 2019.
Soundbar shipments are expected to have grown 6% in 2018, finishing the year at 18 million units. In emerging markets, growth is being driven by relatively low penetration, whereas developed markets are experiencing strong value growth as consumers upgrade to devices with premium features.
“2018 also saw the release of the first soundbar with integrated voice assistance,” says Hammett. “This new segment is likely to account for 5% of all soundbar shipments in 2019 and will continue to grow throughout the forecast period, out to 2022. However, smart technology won’t have quite the impact on the soundbar market that it has had on wireless speaker shipments.”
Looking to the brand landscape, Harman/JBL occupies the top spot in home audio for both shipments and revenues, despite the intense competition from smart speakers, particularly from Amazon and Google. Chinese brand Alibaba is also making its presence felt on the global stage for shipments, despite only selling into the Chinese market. However, when it comes to revenues it is still an inconsequential player. In terms of revenues, after Harman/JBL, Bose and Sony are tied in second position.
The Futuresource home audio market report provides insights and forecasts for the global market, with value and volume data for 2016 to 2022. Products and segments included in the report are wireless speakers, smart, speakers, soundbars, A/V receivers, hi-fi systems and dedicated speaker docks.