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Audio device sales hit US$5.23 billion in first half of 2018

by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 13 September 2018

Research house GfK has announced that global sales of audio devices hit US$5.23 billion in the first half of 2018 – an increase of 5% year-on-year. GfK also claims that there is still growth potential in smart devices with embedded voice assistants or high-performance features that enhance the listening experience. Revenues for headphones and headsets contributed US$2.33 billion with 59 million units sold in the first half of 2018. Europe (without CIS) and APAC accounted for more than 85% of the global headphone and headset revenues.

Headphones and headsets equipped with Bluetooth technology were responsible for 60% of revenues, up from 42% a year earlier.

GfK stated: “This development paves the way for devices compatible with the smartphone’s voice assistant, integrating these in smart ecosystems. Considering that more and more smartphone producers are removing the headphone jack from their devices, Bluetooth-enabled headphones and headsets are expected to continue their growth path.”

Multiroom devices, which allow playing different songs in different rooms, accounted for 23% of the total turnover of audio home systems, radio devices, docking and mini speakers, tuners, amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers.

Markus Kick, GfK expert for consumer electronics, said: “In 2018 we are seeing more and more audio home systems, mini speakers and soundbars with embedded voice assistant. These devices increased their sales value with triple-digit growth rates and accounted for 6% of the sales value of the streaming devices in the first half of 2018."

"In the last months we have seen more and more products using a detour, voice control via an additional smart speaker, to be integrated in smart ecosystems. Time will tell, whether this solution will prevail or whether it is just a bridging technology,” Kick added.

In the first six months of 2018, a total of 23% of the global audio sales value came from online sales, compared to 21% a year earlier. In Europe, the online sales percentage was even higher at 27%.

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