(Last Updated On: January 27, 2020)

Smart audio products will be the fastest category among smart devices to attract consumer demand.

A girl with wireless headphones on. Canalys forecasts mart personal audio devices to be the fastest-growing category of smart devices. (From The Hearing Review)
A girl with wireless headphones on. Canalys forecasts mart personal audio devices to be the fastest-growing category of smart devices. (From The Hearing Review)

Oregon-based Canalys expects demand for smart personal audio devices to see dramatic growth in the next few years despite rising economic and geopolitical uncertainties.

In its latest press release, the research firm said 726 million units of devices such as Bluetooth headphones, and truly wireless headsets, among others, will be shipped globally in 2023.

For 2020 alone, Canalys expects shipment of 490 million units of smart personal audio devices worldwide. The figure would mean a 32.1% climb from last year’s sales than last year.

“In terms of opportunities, smart personal audio will be the fastest growing category,” Canalys said.

A breakdown of product-categories making up the 3 billion sales, as forecasted by Canalys for 2023. (From Canalys)
A breakdown of product-categories making up the 3 billion sales, as forecasted by Canalys for 2023. (From Canalys)

The sales performance of personal audio devices will be second to that of smartphones. Smartphones remain to be the most important category, to account for half of the 3 billion smart units projected to be sold in 2023.

Speakers, Wearable Bands Trail Behind Personal Audio

The second fastest growing category will be smart speakers, according to Canalys.

The research firm forecasts worldwide shipments of speakers by end-2020 to jump 21.7% year-on-year to 150 million units.

The category is followed by wearable bands, which is expected to grow by 11.8% in 2020.

Why the Rising Demand for New Smart Product-Categories

A per-category comparison of smart device shipments in 2023, as projected by Canalys
A per-category comparison of smart device shipments in 2023, as projected by Canalys

The expected surge of demand in personal audio, devices, speakers, and wearable bands, can be attributed to their role in being pieces to a broader smart ecosystem that operates better as a whole.

Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys, said:

“Smart devices, especially relatively new categories, such as smart personal audio devices, wearable bands and smart speakers, are forming multiple touchpoints to complete an intelligent ecosystem for consumers on the move, at work and at home.”

He added:

“A lot of progress has been made in the past 12 months, and it will be the most important trend in consumer technology in 2020. It is becoming apparent to vendors that these devices are important as they offer different opportunities for user interactions and a more holistic approach to the user experience, as well as several key features that cannot be effectively achieved by smartphones alone.”

Apple, Advised to “Think Outside the Box” for Smoother Integration

Canalys VP of mobility Nicole Peng said there is no ‘one size fits all’ for ambient computing, but noted that:

“To compete, hardware vendors must consider how different ecosystem devices should be positioned to align with their respective strategies while creating new business models to complement the overall ecosystem.”
An Apple watch, phone, laptop, and wireless earphones. An analyst from Canalys advised Apple to
An Apple watch, phone, laptop, and wireless earphones. An analyst from Canalys advised Apple to “think outside the box” to improve connectivity within its ecosystem and its software. (From SiliconANGLE Media, Inc.)

She noted that while Apple has showcased its capabilities in keeping its ecosystem close-knit, the tech giant “must think outside the box to provide seamless integration” between smartphones and smart devices in terms of connectivity and software.

She exemplified the strategies of Amazon and Google who are far ahead in terms of ecosystem-driven features and services, adding:

“It is not just that their services are platform- and device-agnostic, they also have much more capable smart assistants.”