For the first time ever, Bluetooth headphones are now making up the majority of sales. According to NPD, Bluetooth headphones now account for 54% of U.S. dollar sales world-wide in the category, overtaking traditional 3.5mm headphone jack headphone sales for the very first time. Interestingly, however, Bluetooth headphones still only make up 17% of unit sales in the United States.
The headphone industry grew 7% year-over-year for the first half of this year, but Bluetooth headphones saw a year-over-year growth of 42%, making this a rapidly growing market. Considering the fact that smartphones still use 3.5mm headphone jacks, and that Bluetooth headsets require charging, this might be surprising to some.
Perhaps, however, the market is gearing towards a certain world where 3.5mm headphone jack is a thing of the past. Rumors are circulating that the upcoming iPhone 7 will be finally getting rid of the 3.5mm jack in favour of using the Apple Lightning Port. This will of course mean that manufacturers begin creating headphones with Lightning connectivity, but it’s more likely that people will switch to the much more modern alternative – Bluetooth.
Beats and LG have been the biggest manufacturers pushing this Bluetooth trend lately, especially for the first half of 2016. The two manufacturers accounted for roughly 65% of dollar sales in the industry, followed by Bose, Jaybird and Skullcandy.
The increase in Bluetooth headphone sales is not as simple as it might sound, though. In fact, overall sales prices have helped the market to grow, with the average price for the first half of this year decreasing by 5% over last year. On top of that, roughly 30% of Bluetooth headphones sold in the first half of 2016 were either equal to or less than $50, making them extremely competitively priced.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the Lightning headphone jack, and the likely conversion to USB C for non-Apple smartphones, will affect the market. Maybe Bluetooth will become the industry standard over the next few years.