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Rise of the speaker dock leads to fall of HiFi [insight]

Ever wondered how the Apple iPod and other portable media players have impacted the HiFi market? According to the most recent Gfk consumer electronics figures, the iPod speaker dock is taking over the market as the more traditional HiFi systems are falling rapidly.

Gfk consumer electronics monitor indicates that the speaker dock market is following a similar sales trend as the Apple iDevices themselves, a nice and sharp upwards sales curve with around 1.5 million iPod speaker docks being sold in the period from July 2010 to June 2011 in the UK. If you include all systems featuring an Apple dock that figure increases to 3.1 million systems. iDevice owners want to see more features in their systems, and DAB as a feature has become increasingly popular, so i expect to see further growth in DAB speaker dock sales. The graphs for the more traditional HiFi system and separates has however taken an opposite turn.

According to the same report sales of HiFi systems and HiFi separates, which includes AV receivers, speaker packages, amplifiers etc. have fallen sharply, a likely reflection of the overall economy as well as the rise of the portable music players and digital music changing how we consumer music. The importance of good integration with iOS devices, as well as other portable media players, has not gone by unnoticed however as we in the recent months have seen an increase in integration of several streaming capabilities, including Apple AirPlay from many leading HiFi manufacturers, perhaps most notably in the AV Receiver market where the likes of Denon, Marantz, Pioneer and others are now offering AirPlay enabled AV Receivers, with most of them also supporting DLNA, bluetooth, internet radio etc.

Speaking of Apple AirPlay, whilst access to systems that have been compatible with the new streaming format from Apple has been limited in the year reported on, Gfk estimates that up to 7% of audio systems sales are for systems that support Apple AirPlay. The UK streaming market is still fairly low, with a reported 74,000 sales, it is showing some nice growth that i’m sure will be better reflected in next years report, given the surge in announced Apple AirPlay speakers over the recent month.

Based on these figures the argument can be made that Apple devices and the surge of the compact speaker dock systems is killing quality audio. Whilst there is bound to be some truth in that, the figures are also telling us that we are spending slightly more on our HiFi systems, as the £300+ systems have seen a year-on-year growth of 18%. So while the high street might be pushing low-end budget iPod speaker docks, remember, there are some great high-quality systems to be found online and in speciality HiFi shops that perfectly integrates with your Apple device.

[source: Gfk via WhatHiFi]

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Filed in: insight, Lead Story

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