smartphone researchSmartphone and tablet users are increasingly using their devices as portable music players, driving growth in accessory devices, such as wireless speakers and headphones, that enhance the listening experience, according to a new study from The NPD Group.

Forty percent of tablet owners said they use their devices to listen to music, while 56% of smartphone users said the same, according to NPD’s new Audio Consumption Study. Among the latter group, 39% said they use their smartphones to listen to music at least once a day, and more than half (54%) said they did so more now than they did one year ago.

Sixty-five percent of those using smartphones as portable music players reported listening to Internet Radio sites, such as Pandora. Thirty percent are using on-demand streaming music services, such as Spotify or Rhapsody.

Sixty percent, by comparison, said they listen to music from their own personal music libraries. A similar percentage of tablet owners are listening to Internet Radio, while 49% port their own music files, according to NPD’s press release.

“With both local music storage and the ability to connect to any number of online music services, tablets and smartphones are actually contributing to a net increase in their owner’s use of internet radio and personal music collections,” NPD director of industry analysis Ben Arnold was quoted as saying. “As a result, we are seeing sales growth in products that compliment playback on mobile devices, particularly those that feature wireless local streaming.”

Growing use of smartphone and tablets as portable music players is producing a ripple effect, driving sales of wireless streaming speaker sales higher by a factor of three in 2012, for example. Moreover, 28% of soundbars sold last year were Bluetooth-enabled, up from 6%, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.

The fact that “products that enhance listening like streaming speakers and soundbars with Bluetooth and even premium headphones have experienced tremendous growth over the past year is evidence that consumers aren’t only satisfied with music on-the-go: they increasingly want to use these devices for a better in-home music experience,” Arnold commented.

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