Futuresource Study Finds 12% Decrease in Worldwide Speaker Shipments

A newly released study from Futuresource finds experienced a 12% year-on-year decrease in worldwide shipments this past year.


Validating the vast amounts of anecdotal evidence that exist when looking at the home audio market, a Futuresource study says worldwide speaker shipments are shrinking.

Futuresource Consulting‘s latest study—the 43-page “Worldwide Loudspeaker Market Report”—finds the consumer loudspeaker market delivered 45 million shipments worldwide in 2018 for a trade value of $2.8 billion. These figures equate to a 12% year-on-year decrease in units, and a 5% drop in value according to Futuresource.

The research company attributes the drop in shipments and value to a change in consumer listening habits where smart speakers and headphones have become the public’s preferred speaker components.

“The growth in streaming services is transforming the relationship that people have with music,” states Guy Hammett, market analyst, Futuresource Consulting.

“It’s altering audio consumption habits and we’re seeing a rapid change in the mix of devices people wish to buy and own. Combine this with trends towards convenience, simplicity; fewer and smaller speakers and less cabling, and there are clear challenges ahead for the traditional loudspeaker market. Just three years ago, the value of the wireless speaker market was less than double that of loudspeakers. Now it’s nearly three times the value.”

Custom Install, Architectural Speakers Bright Spot in Failing Worldwide Speaker Shipments

When analyzing the consumer audio market Futuresource breaks the loudspeaker industry into four categories:

  • Floorstanding speakers
  • Architectural speakers (in-wall and in-ceiling speakers)
  • Home Theater speakers
  • Computer speakers

Hammett says of those four categories there is hope for the consumer audio market in the form of architectural loudspeakers.

“But there is life left in loudspeakers with in-wall and in-ceiling speakers leading the charge. [These products] are growing strongly at 7% last year, and [they are] helping [to] alleviate some of the downward pressure,” he notes.

“We anticipate this segment will continue to gain strength throughout the forecast period, despite some economic uncertainty.”

Taking a closer look at the architectural loudspeaker category, Futuresource estimates this category is dominated by U.S. product sales, but “encouraging pockets” of sales are building in the APAC (Asia Pacific countries) region that includes China’s 15% growth rate.

Two categories that are experiencing the biggest levels of decline are home theater and computer speakers. Futuresource attributes the decline of these product categories to soundbars and improved speakers in laptop computers.

“Despite the shadows cast by smart speakers and headphones, our forecasts show that the loudspeaker market is on track to end 2019 down by just 1.6% in value, even though units will fall by 10%,” adds Hammett.

“In addition to in-wall, floorstanding speakers are also doing their bit to stave off the decline, as average selling prices are on the rise and taking a lot of the sting out of descending volumes.”

Geographically, North America accounts for more than 40% of worldwide speaker value in 2019, followed by Europe and the APAC regions.

About the Author

Robert Archer
Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


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