Soundbar Shipments on the Rise: Futuresource Report


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Worldwide shipments of soundbars doubled in size between 2010 and 2011 to reach nearly 2.5 million units with the market expected to enjoy further growth throughout the forecast period to 2016, according to a new CE report from Futuresource Consulting.

In the middle of the last decade, soundbars were targeted at relatively high end consumers who did not have the space for complete home theatre systems, which are also associated with multiple speakers and wires, but who wanted good quality sound. As the flat panel TV boom has continued, the sound quality of some TV sets has been compromised in the shift towards ever-thinner designs. This has resulted in more soundbars emerging, targeted at those who are not interested enough in audio to purchase a home theatre, but who believe that the sound of their TV would benefit from a little extra investment. In some territories, many retailers have reinforced this point with consumers, suggesting a soundbar as an additional purchase at the same time that they buy the TV.

North America makes up the largest share of the global market, accounting for more than two thirds of global soundbar shipments and is expected to remain the largest world market out to 2016. Vendors and retailers alike have vigorously promoted soundbars to the consumer and premium TV brands have benefited from bundling TV sets and soundbars, often at a discount.

Looking to Europe, the region has been much slower to follow the North American lead and accounted for less than 20% of global shipments last year. Perhaps this is primarily due to a comparative lack of space in European homes. In addition, retailers in many European markets have been slow to take up the concept of soundbars.

In Japan, the adoption of soundbars occurred much earlier than in Europe, though the market is maturing more rapidly and the country is not a core target for home theatre products. In 2011, Japan accounted for less than 8% of the global market and this share will reduce to half that level by 2016 as the market in Europe and the rest of the world expands.

Despite the growth in soundbars, Futuresource analysis and forecasts show that the products will not become mass market, and penetration will reach just 2% of global households by 2016.


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