Shipments of smart speakers hit record high, with smart displays a red hot category

posted on Wednesday, 19th August 2020 by Steve May

Wireless  Loudspeakers  Bluetooth  Trade 

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The smart wireless speaker market continues to fly, reports Futuresource Consulting in its latest quarterly bulletin on the wireless speaker business.

Demand for wireless speakers grew by 27 per cent in 2019, to hit a high of 157m units. The driving force is smart speakers with built-in voice technology, which posted 60 per cent growth. By comparison, Bluetooth devices without voice control grew just 1 per cent over the same period.

The world’s biggest market for smart speakers was China, where demand rose 146 per cent. The territory accounts for 35 per cent of all smart speaker shipments. It’s predicted to overtake the US, to become the largest smart speaker market in 2020.

The data also reveals a new trend. Smart displays, as a subset of smart speakers, have become the hot home audio product at the moment, where shipments grew 373 per cent in 2019 and an even more staggering 457 per cent in Q1 2020.

The multifunctional nature of smart display speakers seems to be key to their ap[peal. Not only can they be used for music playback, but they are being used for short and long form video watching, video calling and e-learning, and functioning as kitchen assistants.

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It’s clear that this isn’t an area where traditional Hi-Fi brands are finding a role. This market is dominated by the tech giants Amazon, Google, Baidu, Alibaba and Xiaomi.

Demand for non-smart speakers is flat, with only large wireless party speakers, with big drivers and LED lighting effects, showing growth, up 85 per cent last year according to Futuresource.

The biggest name is Bluetooth speakers is JBL, with Sony taking the number two spot last year ahead of Bose and Ultimate Ears.
It remains to be seen just how badly hit the sector will be by COVID-19 in 2020. The market prediction is that the sector will continue to grow, albeit less than previously expected.

Shipments of non-smart speakers slumped in Q1 and April, and although there has been a recovery in early summer, the prediction is that demand will fall compared to 2019.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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