Today’s audio consumers want freedom from wires

  • Our 2018 State of Play report finds audio consumers more discerning than ever, and amongst "early adopters" of audio technology, China has taken the lead

Aug 2, 2018 - San Diego: Qualcomm products mentioned within this press release are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today at its IoT Industry Analyst Workshop released the 2018 State of Play report, based on a survey of 6,000 consumers in China, the United Kingdom and the United States. The report looks to analyze purchasing drivers, and to better understand how consumers feel about and interact with audio technology.

"When we saw the results, we were surprised by a couple of things. We knew consumers were adopting true wireless devices, but the trend towards wire-free earbuds is very strong in China, with more than 80 percent of participants in China looking to purchase a pair vs. more than half planning to do the same in the U.S. It is exciting to see true wireless being so rapidly adopted by those consumers." said Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, voice and music, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. "Another notable finding is the way many consumers have adopted smart speakers and voice user interfaces. This product category is evolving rapidly, and end-user expectations are shifting accordingly. People now want to take their smart speakers outside or be able to move them around the house, and they expect to get an immediate, natural-sounding voice response. This means the next generation of products need to work well in a multitude of environments, support multiple modes of connectivity and both on device and cloud-based artificial intelligence, yet have the battery power and life necessary for extended portability."

It is an exciting and transformative time in the audio industry. Expectations for sound quality across the whole audio ecosystem are clearly growing - including at lower price points and even with the headphones that come with a mobile phone purchase. Many manufacturers are racing to meet new possibilities with features like true wireless, natural-sounding voice assistance, ultra-low power, integrated active noise cancellation; not to mention a variety of new use cases, such as artificial intelligence based in-ear sports coaching. Murray added, "Fortunately we are inventing products and platforms that can help our customers to deliver these features successfully."

Some of the key findings from the 2018 State of Play report include:

  • More consumers claim to be audiophiles than ever before: 78% of participants said they look for high resolution (24-bit) audio in a wireless headphone or speaker, and Active Noise Cancellation, once only available in high end headsets is becoming a sought-after feature
  • 47% of respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a new smartphone that came with a set of wireless headphones or earbuds, with Bluetooth® wireless being the most preferred connection type
  • The industry is ripe for the introduction of hearables with 78% of respondents being more likely to purchase truly wireless headphones that could support additional features such as calling, fitness tracking or voice assistant capabilities
  • People have embraced 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
  • Smart speakers are among the most sought-after consumer audio device, 32% of respondents said that if they could only purchase one device within the next 12 months, it would be a smart speaker with integrated cloud-based voice assistant
  • Almost half of consumers surveyed would like the ability to take their voice-supported speaker outside and use it "on-the-go" with improved battery life and need to support cellular connectivity
  • British respondents are slower to adopt new audio technologies such as smart speakers and truly wireless headphones compared to their Chinese and United States counterparts

The study, based on a survey of 6,000 adult smartphone users in China, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted by OnePoll Ltd, helps identify current consumer attitudes and purchase drivers for personal audio and speakers, helping Qualcomm and its customers to design audio technologies and products designed to meet users' expectations and enrich their lives.

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