Headphone News August 2016
Bluetooth Headphone Sales Outpace Wired Headphones for First Time
Largely on the back of Beats and LG Bluetooth headset sales, who capture 65% of the market in dollar sales, Bluetooth wireless headphone unit sales have outsold wired headphones for the first time. According to the initial PR Web press release, Bose, Jaybird, and Skullcandy rounded out the top five.
This trend, of course, is only going to get stronger with the now confirmed news that the Apple iPhone7 will not have a headphone jack. Let's see...Apple own Beats; Beat is the top seller of Bluetooth cans; Apple ditches the headphone jack; insert Dr. Dre and Tim Curry evil laugh.
They're not the only ones laughing, however. In a recent Seeking Alpha article, Skullcandy's chief commercial officer Sam Paschel is quoted as saying:
"It's a big shift for us and for the consumer. We truly believe it's going to trigger a repurchasing cycle around headphones, with a very fast and very large shift to Bluetooth."
The article goes on to say:
Bluetooth dollar sales grew 42% YoY through 1H16, while the broader headphone market saw dollar sales grew a pedestrian 7%. While Bluetooth still owns only 17% unit share, 42% YoY growth and majority dollar sales are evidence that this fairly new technology is beginning to gain some serious traction.
You can expect companies to focus hard on wireless technologies in the near future. Unfortunately that may have us seeing a de-emphasis on good sounding wired cans. I reckon our our choices will become fewer, but the good ones are likely to remain. We'll see.
First USB Type-C Noise Canceling Headphones
With Apples lead it's likely we'll see the 3.5mm headphone jack disappearing from many phones and the rise in use of the USB Type-C connector for headphones on Android phones. Evidently the first of its kind, the recently released HTC 10 now makes available the JBL Reflect Aware noise canceling in-ear monitor with a USB Type-C connection. You can find it on the HTC 10 accessories page.
Gotta say, look like regular old analog wired headphones are going the way of the dodo.
Corporate Dance Partners
Not long ago I reported Skullcandy as up for sale and in the midst of a bidding war between Mill Road Capital and smartphone and tablet accessory maker Incipio. Well the deed is done, and Skullcandy now joins Incipio for the cool price of $188.6 millionor $6.10 a share. Share were initially offered at $20 in their July 2011 IPO.
I don't particularly dig Skullcandy being sold to a case maker, but this did perk up my ears: Incipio has also just acquired Griffin Technologiesalso a case maker, but they do have a few broader products and decent brand strength.
I don't know what Incipio is on about, but it sure looks like they're on about something.
Amazon's Selective Noise Canceling
It always seem so weird to me when fundamentally IT companies start making hardware. Well, I have an Amazon Echo and think it's amazing...still weird though. Reports have surfaced that Amazon has just received a patent for noise canceling headphones that can selectively cancel or let in sounds of a variety of types while continuing to cancel other noises. Imagine sitting at a noisy bar waiting for your table announcement and being able to shut out all the noise but still hear the waitress call your name.
Write more and better code than anyone else and rule the world...said someone probably over at Google.
Getting All Tied Up
I know it's frustrating to encounter a tangle of earphone wire in the bottom of your backpack pocket, but should we have an objective viewpoint on the problem? So thought some researchers at University of California at San Diego Department of Physics. "Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string" by Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith is the result of long hours executing some 3,415 trials putting a carefully looped earphone into a box and shaking it. Variables were the cable length and shaking time.
The long and the short of it? Cables under 46cm rarely get tangled. That's 18 inches folks...not much of a cable. Also "Y" configured earphones are more prone to tangling...basically all IEMs. Cables over 2 meters don't tangle any more than those of normal length...so go ahead and put a 12 foot cable on your IEMs if you want.
Basically, you're screwed, they'll always be tangled. Don't you feel better now? Read more here.