The results are in from this year’s State of Play survey — the third in our series of reports on the way people use their audio technology.
We surveyed over 4,000 consumers in the US and UK who use a smartphone, and gathered their opinions on key topics including what really matters to them when buying wireless headphones or a wireless speaker, whether they’ll be investing in pair of truly wireless earbuds and how they feel about voice interaction.
Here are some highlights from the findings:
- More than ever, consumers in 2017 expect both convenience and quality from their personal audio devices, at all pricing tiers. This is illustrated by technology shifts such as the widespread uptake of streaming media services and wireless devices, which offer greater freedom for users. The results showed that sound quality is a vital purchase driver for 78 percent of respondents, and 51 percent cited ease-of-use as a main factor in their purchasing decision.
- Battery life has emerged as a very important feature for shoppers, which presents an engineering challenge for manufacturers who must balance this with potentially contradicting demands for more features and improved user experience. Almost 70 percent of American and over 50 percent of British consumers we surveyed rated battery life as “very important” when choosing wireless speakers or headphones.
- Consumer interest in the hearable ecosystem is rapidly building. More than two thirds (67 percent) of Americans surveyed were interested in a wireless headset that could connect to the internet and provide voice assistance for their daily lives. Though this trend wasn’t strong in the UK, it still amounted to 45 percent of UK participants. We expect manufacturers who innovate early stand to make the biggest gains in the hearables space.
- There is significantly more consumer interest in voice control and personal assistants in 2017 compared to last year, as shoppers want smart technology that can respond to them when they ask a question or give a command. In addition, 43 percent of respondents felt that having the ability to use voice control for their audio device will make their life easier. This suggests that manufacturers could maximise sales by delivering products with superior voice interaction capabilities.
- When we compared our findings to our surveys from 2014 and 2016 we saw that consumers have continued to become more discerning about audio quality year over year. In addition, 80 percent of participants said they expect new features included with each new release of wireless audio product, another growing trend seen in previous years.