Qualcomm Audio Consumer Insights Report Shows Rising Popularity of Wireless Headphones and Wireless Speakers

August 7 2018, 01:00
Qualcomm has released its annual The State of Play 2018 report, with valuable insights on the fast-moving world of personal and home audio technology - including expectations and product purchase drivers for American, British and Chinese consumers. The new report shows, for the second year in a row, that sound quality is by far the highest ranked buying consideration when choosing wireless headphones or speakers. More than half of participants surveyed (53%) said they are planning to purchase completely wire-free earbuds.

In order to better enable Qualcomm's own OEM/ODM clients to meet the changing demands of consumers, Qualcomm Technologies International worked with market research firm OnePoll to survey 6,000 American, British, and Chinese adult smartphone users about their listening habits, the current state of wireless personal audio, and their purchasing drivers. The State of Play 2018 report provides valuable insights over consumer desires and the purchase drivers for personal audio and speakers.

"Over the last few years, we’ve seen new trends emerge in audio consumption, from streaming to voice UI to audio everywhere (at home and on-the-go). As a result, consumers are holding audio technology to higher standards, and these evolving expectations are influencing the way manufacturers develop devices. They're focusing on battery life, freedom from wires, connectivity, and superior sound quality, so listeners enjoy a better audio experience," states the report.

76% of respondents in 2018, and 78% in 2017, said the sound quality was the most important factor when choosing wireless headphones or speakers. 79% of people surveyed said they look for high-resolution audio support as a feature when choosing which wireless headphones or speakers to buy, and that they would be willing to pay more for it. Consumer are also clerkly embracing voice interfaces, with 78% of respondents stating that using voice or natural language to interface with their smart speaker, home hub or other electronic devices does or would make life easier – an increase of 35% compared with the 2017 State of Play report.

Another key finding in the report is the fact that consumers are adopting truly wireless devices, with more than half of participants we surveyed (52%) now planning to purchase completely wire-free earbuds, and this rises to 70% for those aged below 35. Additionally, 73% of respondents indicated a desire for additional features such as fitness tracking and voice assistant. 62% of people said they would buy from any brand or manufacturer that could deliver the quality and features they wanted.

Completely wire-free earbuds are moving away from its fitness niche and into the mainstream. Chinese consumers seem especially excited about this newfound freedom from wires, with more than 80 percent saying they plan to buy a pair. Overall, improving battery life, comfort, and sound quality should be seen as the most important design considerations for true wireless earbuds, as 62 percent of respondents agreed that features need to be balanced with sound quality.

Consumers are looking for smarter speakers
As smart speakers and home hubs grow in popularity, people have increasingly embraced them and their UI features. Of those surveyed, 78 percent said that using voice to interact with their electronic devices has made or will make their lives easier. In fact, smart speakers are now the most sought-after consumer audio device. The largest portion of respondents (32 percent) said that if they could purchase only one device within the next 12 months, it would be a smart speaker with a cloud-based voice assistant.

Voice-enabled speakers are typically used in the home, but almost half of the consumers surveyed said that they would like to use their smart speakers outside of the home. This expectation will most likely influence speaker manufacturers and product development. Battery life, local cellular connectivity, and voice capture technologies, especially in noisy environments, will be top-of-mind.

To see the full report and learn more about what consumers surveyed expect from the next wave of audio technology, go here
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