Having declined for the first time in six years during 2020 due to a combination of restrictions on movement and the economic shock of the pandemic, retail current value sales of portable players will return to growth during 2021. Wireless speakers will be the sole driver of this growth, with retail current value sales of e-readers and particularly portable media players in long-term decline.
The competitive landscape in wireless speakers is extremely fragmented, with no player set to have a retail volume share of more than 10% in 2021. While Samsung Corp subsidiary Harman International Industries Inc’s JBL brand will remain the leader in 2021, Google Home and Amazon Echo are rapidly gaining ground on it.
Demand for e-readers is hampered by their long replacement cycles, in addition to the fact that younger consumers in particular are using their smartphones and (to a lesser extent) tablets to read books in growing numbers. Meanwhile, many older readers prefer physical books.
The performance of wireless speakers on the one hand and e-readers and particularly portable players on the other will continue to diverge during the forecast period. Smart speakers will continue to grow in popularity in wireless speakers, and, more generally, demand for these devices will continue to grow in popularity in tandem with smartphone use, cannibalising home audio and cinema and in-car speakers in the process.
In sharp contrast, the growing popularity of smartphones for media streaming will push portable media players towards obsolescence. E-readers will also continue to shed retail current value sales throughout the forecast period due to long replacement cycles and a dearth of new consumers – with the young generally preferring smartphones and their older counterparts persisting with paper.
Smart speakers will continue to percolate into the mainstream during the forecast period, supported by increased consumer interest in voice assistants and (to a lesser extent) smart homes. Tech giants like Amazon, Google and Apple view smart speakers as potentially a significant source of long-term revenue growth by offering such services as voice-enable online shopping.
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