It's a jungle out there. Who will survive?
Evidently I've been wrangled into hosting the headphone panel discussion at THE Show Newport May 31-June 2. (SoCal readers might like to attend this show as they've really tried to put a special emphasis on headphone listening and will have a dedicated headphone area.) So, I've been thinking about how to create a topic for discussion that might be worth while. I've come up with "Headphones: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Where are we, and where are we going?"
It seems to me we are the verge of big things happening in the world of headphones. One might say big things have already been happening what with the double digit growth in the market over the last five years and new players appearing at breakneck speed, but I think that's just the first salvo. With Beats tenaciously holding on to 2/3rds of the over $100 headphone market, I can only believe we'll be seeing many of these recent entries bowing back out as they are unable to capture enough of the 1/3rd market share remaining to make the effort worth while. (Phonak has recently pulled the Audeo brand, for example.)
So, a lot of pieces have been placed on the board, and I'm curious what readers think will happen over the next 5 years or so. Here's a poll with a number of possible futures, no doubt it's incomplete. Please vote for what you think is the closest option, but feel free to let your thoughts run wild in the comments area.
The Pessimist: Beats share may slowly dwindle, but it's place will be taken by more of the same with little regard for sound quality.
The Optimist: The public will slowly become aware of the value of good sound quality, and old guard makers like Sennheiser, AKG, Sony, etc, will gradually regain market share.
The Realist: Nothing particularly dramatic will happen, but the headphone market will become more sophisticated and complex over time, and all significant public interests will be served.
The Technologist: New types of headphone drivers, and the companies that develop them, will come along and take market share from legacy companies unable to change rapidly enough to remain competitive.