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GfK: Bluetooth connectivity drives market for portable consumer electronics

GfK: Bluetooth connectivity drives market for portable consumer electronics

  • Europe
  • GfK findings on the market for portable consumer electronic goods and navigation devices in Western Europe – first half of 2014 Bluetooth connectivity is one of the most significant growth drivers on the market for portable consumer electronics. In the first half of 2014, consumer spending on Bluetooth-enabled radios and docking speakers in Western Europe was more than twice the value reported in the same period of the previous year. In addition, Bluetooth stereo headphones and headsets are more popular than ever before, generating revenue growth of 54 percent. These are GfK’s findings on the market for portable consumer electronic goods and navigation devices in Western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom), which are published to coincide with the IFA 2014 trade fair in Berlin.
  • GfK Group

The market for radio devices in Germany remained extremely stable in the first half of 2014, with revenue increasing slightly by 0.8 percent. Germany therefore achieved the most positive development in the radio market of all countries in the survey. In Western Europe as a whole, revenue fell by 3.8 percent. However, some segments were able to generate revenue growth, with Bluetooth devices performing particularly well in this regard. Almost 7 percent of all radio revenue in Western Europe was attributable to such devices in the first half of 2014. Revenue therefore more than doubled, recording an increase of 143 percent. Digital radios are also becoming ever more popular. From January to June 2014, Western European retailers had already sold 765,000 radios with digital radio functionality, of which the lion’s share was in the UK market with 588,000 radios.

Docking speakers which transmit audio content from smartphones and other devices via Bluetooth or traditional physical docking options continued to be extremely popular in Western Europe. In the first half of 2014, consumer spending on speakers of this kind amounted to €211 million, which represents an increase in revenue of almost 46 percent on the previous year. Overall, 83 percent of all docking speakers that were sold between January and June 2014 featured integrated Bluetooth technology. The Bluetooth segment therefore further consolidated its position on the market, more than doubling revenue (+137 percent). Consequently, this can be identified as the principal driver of growth in docking speakers when compared with the previous year.

The sales volume of headphones and mobile stereo headsets was stable, at 17.3 million units in the first half of 2014. Owing to a positive price development, value revenue improved by 3.7 percent. At 43 percent, the wired headband segment continues to hold the greatest value share in the market. However, the major growth drivers between January and June 2014 were the markets for wired in-ear models, which fit more deeply in the ear canal and therefore block out passive noise more effectively (revenue +18 percent), and for Bluetooth stereo headphones and headsets (revenue +54 percent). In the Bluetooth segment, headband models were again the strongest with a 75 percent share of volume revenue. Consumers are evidently not necessarily deciding against wired headband headphones, but instead opting for models that offer an additional Bluetooth connectivity.

The market situation for MP3 and MP4 players continues to be difficult in the face of competitive pressure from smartphones. Revenue in the segment of MP3 players only dropped by 16 percent, which means that demand in Western Europe can still be considered good. The area of sports represents a glimmer of hope at present. In the first half of this year, Western European consumers spent €7.7 million on devices that are specifically designed for sporting activities, which includes for example waterproof products and products with special fitness functions. This equates to a revenue increase of 15 percent.

Impressive growth prospects for action camcorders

Over the first half of 2014, almost 50 percent of all camcorder revenue were attributable to action cams, with a strong upward trend. In a year-on-year comparison, they achieved revenue growth of more than 45 percent. Both value and volume revenue in Germany increased by more than 70 percent. With an average price of €249, the cost of action cams in Europe was almost on a par with that of €313 for traditional camcorders. The price stability in the overall market for camcorders on account of excellent technical features is particularly pleasing. Of action cams sold in Europe in June 2014, 55 percent already included smartphone control, that are apps for operating the camera, as well as the capability to stream, edit and directly send videos. This shows that the audience for impressive videos with different angles extends well beyond just “generation Facebook”. These new possibilities were essential for enabling the video market to motivate consumers to buy new products through innovations.

Clear slowdown in decline of market for in-car electronics

In the first half of 2014, the market in Western Europe for in-car electronics only suffered a drop in revenue of 9 percent, which means the revenue decline has slowed down quite considerably. The German market is the most stable, with revenue only decreasing by 4 percent.

Owing to the increasing improvement in the standard equipment supplied with a new car, the market value for car audio fell by 13 percent. Devices with a built-in Bluetooth function which makes it possible to wirelessly connect smartphones continue to provide a ray of hope. This technology is now integrated in around one in four car audio devices being sold. The revenue share attributable to this segment is 37 percent. In addition, the popularity of digital car radios has also increased, with revenue up 51 percent. There has been an increase in demand of 27 percent in the market of fixed in-car navigation devices for self-installation as a result of products with very attractive prices.

Manufacturers of portable navigation devices are focusing on innovation

The pressure on the market for portable navigation devices continues to be high, although a slight improvement is becoming noticeable. In the first half of 2014, the market saw an 11.3 percent decline in volume revenue while value revenue fell by 8 percent. In the same period of 2013, the corresponding figures had been higher at around -15 percent. The markets have suffered further in Southern European countries, in particular. However, positive developments are apparent in Germany and the UK. Despite a decrease in volume revenue of 5 percent, value revenue in Germany remained stable. While value revenue did drop slightly in the UK, this was at a much lower level than the decline in the number of units sold. These positive developments are above all attributable to innovations which are impelling customers to choose premium products: large screens as of 5 inches, improved traffic jam warnings via mobile internet or DAB, free map updates and more. In conclusion, it is clear that there is still potential on the market for manufacturers of navigation devices.

The method

Through its retail panel, GfK regularly collects data on TV and video devices, portable audio products, camcorders, hi-fi and home cinema systems as well as in-car electronics in more than 90 countries worldwide. For the Western European market, this evaluation is based on information from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom for the first half of 2014.

About Content Editor V

Content editor of PressCenter website.

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