We hope you are sitting down for this one.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) says sales of retail car electronics will decline by 10 percent this year and then by 5 or 6 percent each year through 2014 (in shipment revenues).
Included in these numbers are Bluetooth headsets–a pretty large sales category. If you remove the headsets, the total car aftermarket drops to $1.28 billion in 2009, $1.1 billion in 2010, falling to $789 million in 2014. Not pretty. For years this business hovered around the $2 billion wholesale mark, so it is now at half that level.
OE integration kit revenues (excluding the Bluetooth headsets that were lumped into this segment) will fall from $202 million in 2009 to $149 million in 2010 to $134 million in 2011 and then increase to $142 million in 2014. Total head units will decline by about 13 percent a year from $487 million to $246 million.
Amplifiers should shrink about 22 percent this year, slowing to an average of 7 percent declines per year after that through 2014 moving from $157 million to $92 million. Total speakers will decline from $366 million to $263 million in 2014.
CEA concludes that the aftermarket is “stuck in reverse” as “the market opportunity for the classic ‘deck and four’ continues to diminish. Overall revenues here are projected to fall 10 percent by the end of this year, driven by deepening unit declines in several autosound sectors. An even less promising part of the equation involves the lack of a game-changing new product on the immediate horizon. “
Our take: at any point, a company can develop another “FM converter.” To some extent this business started in the ’70s with an FM converter you slapped onto to the AM radio that came with the car. The last “FM converter” we had was satellite radio. It’s time for another one.
We’re dreaming of a device that reads back your email and texts via Bluetooth off your phone in safe manner and lets you respond by voice. If it were executed well, it would be safer than sneak peaking at your phone while driving.
We’ve also advocated that car AV specialists work with local independently owned Apple shops and phone stores.