Canalys: smart audio shipments reached 96.2 million in Q1 2020

Apple AirPods on a green surface
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New data from Canalys reveals that worldwide shipments of smart audio devices reached 96.2 million units in the first quarter of the year. The category includes smart speakers and smart personal audio devices. According to the analyst, the COVID-19 pandemic had varying impacts on the different types of devices, helping some, hindering others.

Canalys said that the pandemic was responsible for the first-ever global decline of smart speaker sales, falling 1.9% with companies selling a total of 20.3 million units. Meanwhile, the smart personal audio category got a boost seeing shipments rise 19.4% with 75.9 million shipments. According to the findings, the growth was driven by products from Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi. True Wireless Stereo (TWS) was the largest category with a 38% market share. Canalys expects the TWS sector to see “robust momentum” as vendors double their efforts.

Discussing the appeal of devices in this sector, Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low said:

“Better sound quality is not the only improvement expected in smart audio devices. With TWS, vendors aim to make it easier for users to consume content, as well as streamline access to smart assistants. Through tightly knitted integration with smart devices, such as smartphones, TWS devices are expected to become smarter, allowing users to work, exercise, learn, relax and be entertained more effectively.”

Discussing the impact of the current coronavirus situation, Low continued to say:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an unexpected accelerator for the market, driving both the creation and consumption of audio and visual media. This in turn benefits the growth of smart audio devices as users seek new and better ways to consume content.”

Canalys said that this year alone, TWS is expected to grow by 29% pushing shipments over the 200 million mark. It said the reasons behind this increase include factors such as a longer battery life, miniaturisation, better comfort, and improved features such as active noise-cancellation.

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