As robust as the whole-house audio market seems to be, newly released data from the research firm Futuresource Consulting finds the category is not meeting its sales potential.
According to the global research company, worldwide sales of multiroom audio speakers grew 30 percent in 2015, but that number falls short of industry expectations, and the numbers “actually fell as a share of total wireless speakers demand to around 8 percent of units.”
Speculating on the reasons for the underachieving results, Futuresource notes that new category entrants into the category have fragmented a market dominated by single brand platforms.
Futuresource Consulting says its research also found that a third of consmers who intend to purchase wireless speakers want to be able to play music simultaneously in multiple rooms, which is an option that should translate into increased sales. Other factors slowing the growth of the category the company says include a lack of support in demonstrating the techologies to consumers, and “inadequate communication from manufacturers” that results in consumers struggling to understand these products.
“Consumers are really confused about the technology,” says Rasika Iyer, senior market analyst, Futuresource Consulting. “For example, over half of U.S. wireless speaker shoppers that we spoke to believed that Bluetooth is an ideal technology for streaming music from one room to the next. [Manufacturers] don't realize that this is a key selling point for Wi-Fi speakers.”
Symbolizing the category's shortcomings, Futuresource Consulting points out that of all the new products introduced at the 2016 International CES Show in Las Vegas, only a few were wireless multiroom audio products.
The research company anticipates a “shake down in the longer term, which will lead to more growth.” Futuresource Consulting theorizes that some of the possibilities that could drive increased sales are the positioning of wireless audio systems as content-driven music devices. The company points out an example this could be the new deal Sonos signed with Apple to include Apple music in its portfolio of services. This deal Futuresource says underscores the fact that content plays an important role in the success of multiroom audio systems.
Futuresource Consulting adds Google Cast recently created some interest in its content and relationships through partnerships with Raumfeld, Bang & Olufsen (B&O) and Frontier Silicon. It concludes its analysis by saying long-term sales prospects will be strong as long as the market standardizes its product offerings, and if it can better communicates its technologies to show consumers how these products can enhance their lives.