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Industry News

Published on September 14th, 2016 | by The GC Team


iPhone 7: Is this retailers’ chance to cash-in on wireless headphones?

“Apple and Motorola removing the 3.5mm jack on their latest handsets is music to the ears of wireless headphone manufacturers.”  GfK’s Imran Choudhary – Key Account Director: Technology – airs the industry researcher’s views on Apple’s latest move

“After months of speculation about Apple’s much anticipated iPhone 7, the rumours around their intention to do away with the long-serving 3.5mm headphone jack were confirmed at Apple’s launch event in Cupertino, California. The new iPhone 7 will only feature the Apple Lightning port, which will now be used for charging, syncing and audio playback. The new model will include a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter for those wishing to use their existing audio devices and a new range of wired headphones featuring the Lightning connector is already set to hit shelves in time for launch, but what will users who wish to listen to music and charge at the same time do?


“Major retailers will have been paying close attention to this announcement, as there is a clear opportunity to offer bundle deals for a Lightning connector or wireless headset with the new handsets”

“It will come as no surprise to many that the launch of Apple’s all-new AirPods, a stylish and fully wireless version of their iconic EarPods, coincided with their new handset launch.  Alongside this, the Apple-owned headphone manufacturer, Beats, also chose this week to launch its new range of fully wireless headphones to the market. It is clear that Apple’s intentions are for all new iPhone 7 customers to make the wireless switch and invest in wireless or Bluetooth-enabled headsets and headphones as their primary listening device. Elsewhere, in the Android universe, Motorola’s Moto Z became the first android phone on the market without a 3.5mm jack, adopting a USB-C only design instead.

“Looking towards the future, we know from past experience that moves made by Apple, however small, are then adopted by the wider mobile market.  The impact of the AirPods with consumers will be to bring this technology to the mainstream. Many consumers will come into the wireless and Bluetooth headset and headphones markets, which will continue to drive growth in these categories. However, with Apple’s move, many customers buying AirPods and similar pieces of kit will have had no prior experience using wireless headphones or headsets. For these consumers, it might lead to a bit of a step change in their behaviour as they learn to charge their headsets as well as their phones.

“The Bluetooth headset (a headset is a headphone with a microphone included) and headphone market has been in strong growth this year already, now worth around €250m in Europe alone. In the UK, Bluetooth headsets have seen growth of over 50% in the last 12m compared to the previous period, with Bluetooth headphones also growing by a staggering 250%. Stereo Bluetooth headsets now outsell their mono counterparts by three to one in terms of volume and their total value is ten times that of the mono market. Major retailers will have been paying close attention to this announcement, as there is a clear opportunity to offer bundle deals for a Lightning connector or wireless headset with the new handsets.

“In recent years, the wireless headset and headphone market has been buoyant around gifting in Q4, as Black Friday and Christmas wish lists drive sales. However, a recent wave of promotions from major high street retailers has already driven unseasonal growth for the Bluetooth headset market this year, particularly in the high end when premium models have experienced notable discounts.

“It will be exciting to see how the major manufacturers react to this news and what the retailers do in light of this announcement.”


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