Wireless earbud and headset growth is poised to accelerate, according to Parks Associates. Although researchers found just 23% of broadband households with wireless earbuds and 16% with wireless headphones as of year-end 2016, that’s set to change, researchers said.

Consumer uptake of wireless audio devices did not grow substantially from 2015-2016, according to Parks’ “360 View Update: Streaming Audio Devices,” but Apple’s decision to exclude an audio jack from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will change that, according to Parks.

Wireless Earbud and Headset Growth
“iPhone 7 and 7 Plus owners must either use a wireless set or attach an adapter to use their wired headsets,” said Parks Senior Analyst Glenn Hower. “The increased friction in using wired headsets will spur a significant number of wireless headset purchases.”

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General audio device peripherals, such as earbuds and headsets lead the way in terms of consumer purchases by unit volumes, but specialized audio device owners, though a much smaller market segment, spend more on equipment and services than the average consumer, Parks notes. Those who own multi-room music systems, for instance, only make up a small percentage of the overall market, but on average they spend double the amount as compared to U.S. broadband households overall.

Furthermore, shifting consumer audio hardware purchasing trends shouldn’t alter the amount consumers spend on music services, Parks says. “The shift to low or no-cost streaming music services has made the music and audio industry accessible to more consumers, but it has led to stagnation in overall revenues in the music industry,” Hower said.

“Over 70% of U.S. broadband households stream music on a connected device, but only 29% of households pay any amount per month for online music. The disproportionately high spend by audiophiles boosts the average amount spent per month among all U.S. broadband households to $4.”

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