One of the handful of consumer electronics products to still be recording increasing volume sales during 2020, even after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, wireless speakers has also been the growth driver of the otherwise shrinking portable players category. While e-readers and portable media players continue to suffer from smartphones being used as substitute devices, as a relatively new product area, wireless speakers continues to enjoy the same brisk business that was already being seen in the run-up to 2020, driven by new sales of voice/smart assistant-positioned products.
With sales already in decline for more than a decade due to the rise of smartphones, portable media players will continue to be on a firm downward trajectory in 2020, possibly even slightly accelerated by the reduced mobility of the overall German population as a result of the measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. There is still a small proportion of consumers who prefer to buy a dedicated portable media player instead of using their smartphones to play media on the go, but the product is already very much a niche one, with relatively few brands still operating in the category as of 2020.
E-readers have also been in decline for a number of years now, as younger consumers deem it sufficient to read on their smartphones instead of investing in a dedicated e-reader. Nevertheless, Germany still represents a large market for these products – globally, still the fifth biggest country in volume sales terms as of 2020 – due to the sizeable proportion of older consumers who value the e-paper element and the simplicity of using e-readers.
Sales of wireless speakers – and particularly smart wireless speakers – are expected to continue growing in the coming years. The COVID-19 pandemic is seen as having accelerated the growth of these products, as more German consumers purchased voice-assistant devices for the first time during the soft lockdown in the second quarter of 2020, using them not only for voice commands and music, but also as a bit of company.
The overall wireless speaker space in Germany is dominated by the American tech companies Amazon and Google through their smart voice assistants Amazon Echo and Google Home, respectively. Both companies benefited from a first-mover advantage as well as a large customer base, with the services of both companies heavily connected to the voice assistants from the beginning.
While the limelight of recent years has been more on the “voice-assistant” smart wireless speakers, the more established non-smart speakers are still an active space, led by Sony and Sonos. Sonos has narrow product portfolio within consumer electronics and is highly renowned for its speaker products as a whole, compared to Sony’s broader product offering.
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