Smart audio market to triple by 2020, says analyst

The smart audio market is estimated to triple over the next four years, according to a new report.

In its The Future Hearables & Smart Audio: Roadmap, Opportunities & Forecasts 2016-2021, Juniper Research has predicted that revenue from smart audio hardware will rise from an estimated $1.4 billion (£1.06bn) this year to over $5.5bn by 2020.

Although Juniper predicted the majority of growth would come from smart-home devices, it said it would partly be driven by ear-based wearables, such as the Bragi Dash and Here Active Listening.

The slower growth in in-ear wearables, said the report, was due to consumers not yet being willing to talk to machines in public and the fact that smartphones can provide similar functions. These factors, Juniper concluded, combine to limit the market.

Juniper also predicted that fitness devices would offer a bigger market for ‘hearables’ [smart headphones].

“Smart speakers win out because, while they also need a context, their form factor gives them an almost universal one, while ‘hearables’ fill specific audio niches,” said research author James Moar. “As a result, smart speakers and ‘hearables’ will fill very different roles, despite relying on similar software capabilities in many cases.”