This is according to figures released by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). At a time when audio manufacturers are experiencing an industry-wide drop in sales – year-to-date figures were down 12 percent by the end of April – many are hoping high-resolution (hi-res) audio will be the next hot product to capture the hearts of consumers.
“Historically there is a similarity between the introduction of hi-res audio and that of the compact disc (CD). Each product – CD, DVD, DVD-Audio (DVD-A) and Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) audio players – met the 250,000 units-shipped mark by the third year,” said Sean Wargo, senior industry analyst for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). “The audio industry tends to cycle through periods of growth as each new and improved technology is introduced, witness the move from turn tables to tape to CDs and now to music DVDs.”
According to CEA market research, manufacturers shipped 148,000 DVD-A and 100,000 SACD players to retailers through May of this year.
“If DVD-A and SACD players are going to truly mimic history, we could see the majority of consumers enjoying hi-res audio by the year 2015, with an even more rapid acceptance of the new audio technologies across the next decade and really driving growth in the audio market,” added Wargo.
In addition to tracking shipment and sales, a study conducted by CEA shows that the market is primed for digital audio formats. According to a survey conducted by eBrain Market Research earlier this year, there is strong consumer interest in DVD-based music, particularly among the 28 percent who currently own surround sound receivers. The majority of these consumers (96 percent) noted discernable differences between the audio quality of a music soundtrack and a CD when played through their surround sound system. Likewise, more than half (61 percent) expressed interest in music on DVD.
The audio industry also is placing hope in home theater-in-a-box sales – which may help kick start sales in speaker upgrades – and the MP3 and compressed audio categories, as well as the new area of distributed audio products. CEA market research shows that MP3 player sales are up this year across all categories. Sales of in-dash MP3-compatible CD players increased 186 percent. Additionally, portable CD/MP3 player sales are up by 116 percent and sales of portable MP3 players increased by 10 percent.