It’s always interesting to look at how car audio is performing in relation to home audio.
If you look at the audio-only segments of the home and car markets then car audio is about 40 percent smaller than home audio.
Both markets had a surprisingly good year in 2015, but for different reasons. Home audio beat the forecasts of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), surprising everyone. It racked up double digit growth of 11 percent, prompting the CEA to state, “Here is something we didn’t expect to say only a few years ago about the home audio category: double digit unit and revenue growth!”
Until last year, home audio had been seen about 1-3 percent for many years.
The bump was due to a big jump in soundbar sales to dealers, which rose 34 percent. Hi-Res Audio also jumped 58 percent! But Hi-Res Audio (HRA) started from a low base of only $4 million in 2014, so even though it doubled to $8 million in 2015, it is still a small niche.
The CTA says HRA could go either way. “There’s a tone of excitement and legitimate enthusiasm about it,” said the CTA’s Sean Murphy. But its success will depend on consumer awareness and the expense of the products so, “It’s a category we’ll be on the watch for.”
Car Audio sales also surprised industry observers in 2015. Single CD players (without video or navigation), rose a surprising 7 percent in units and 2 percent in dollars. The CTA had predicted the segment to fall by 6 percent in dollars. Sales topped 5.5 million units.
And the total car audio aftermarket grew slightly as well. Total aftermarket audio/video/navigation sales to dealers (excluding portable navigation devices) inched up to $1.644 billion in 2015, up from $1.639 billion in 2014.
The CTA attributed the growth to the aging of the cars on the road, now at an average of 11.5 years. So consumers are upgrading their in-dash CD players to head units that can work with apps and a smartphone.
But like home audio, car audio growth will slow again, says the CTA. And while home audio will continue to grow in low single digits, car audio, is largely expected to decline by low single digits.
Home audio is expected to grow by 1 or 2 percent annually over the next four years while car audio is expected to decline by 1 or 2 percent each year.
And car video is on a steeper decline (the CTA looks at that category separately). Car video and navigation (including portable navigation) is expected to decline between 8 and 13 percent annually over the next four years.
You can see a home and car audio comparison below. (click to enlarge)