I attended Bluetooth World 2014 and was privileged to be invited to speak as part of a panel discussion on the continually expanding role of Bluetooth® in the audio market, what’s driven its growth and the positive impact Bluetooth Smart is expected to have on the sector.
The backdrop to the panel session was a recently published report from Research and Markets which found that the wireless audio market is set to grow 24% through to 2018 and will then be worth $13.75bn. So the panel session was keen to explore what has driven market growth to date and what will continue to ensure the market expands.
Bluetooth for audio first started gaining traction in mono headsets in the early 2000s and was primarily used by busy professionals or safety-conscious drivers to make phone calls. After initial steady growth, the market largely plateaued a couple of years ago until two factors came together to propel a second wave of rapid growth. The first was a dramatic improvement in the audio quality delivered over Bluetooth, and CSR’s aptX® CODEC had a huge part to play there, and the second being the widespread consumer adoption of media-rich smartphones and tablets.
This combination matched perfectly with the consumer’s increasingly mobile lifestyles and resonated with their growing familiarity and use of wireless devices. As a result, consumers readily embraced listening to wirelessly streamed music either for personal enjoyment, or shared with friends.
Portable Bluetooth speakers were the first music audio devices to really grab the mainstream consumer’s attention, and having gained an appreciation of the capabilities and benefits that Bluetooth audio had to offer, this naturally led to rapid market volume growth. This acceptance and confidence in Bluetooth audio technology then saw the investment in other devices such as headphones and sound bars increase too.
Looking ahead, Bluetooth Smart has the potential to simplify the user experience even further. For example, in Home Entertainment Audio, the technology has the capability to detect who has walked into a room and can automatically queue up a song which relates to previous choices they have made at a similar time of the day. It simplifies the consumer experience, so users don’t have to navigate through menus themselves, making it a much more personable experience.
The wireless audio market continues to grow, and with Bluetooth Smart offering a more tailored experience to consumers there’s no saturation point in sight. But for the true potential of wireless audio to be realised, there needs to be powerful and flexible platforms at the heart of the development. Find out more about how our audio platforms can help deliver captivating audio experiences.
If you weren’t able to attend Bluetooth World, catch up on the panel session – The Expanding Role of Bluetooth in Audio
What do you think will be the future for Bluetooth in audio? It would be great to get your thoughts and any questions you may have on the topic.