From the Edison horn to the smart speaker, modern society has gone a long way to improve what our ear experiences. Nowadays, the speaker market offers a wide range of products from home theater systems that offer an encompassing listening experience, to wireless speakers that can play your favorite song wherever you like. Bose, Sony and Harman are some of the major players in this market. Over the past few years, Google and Amazon, two internet giants, ventured into the speaker market with their smart speakers. The Google Home and Amazon Echo stand as the firm market leaders, changing the speaker from a device that simply piped music into your house, into one that can plan your day, answer your questions, and control parts of your house. In a 2019 Statista survey about the speaker brands used in the U.S. households, Amazon and Google came second and fifth respectively, beating audio brands like Pioneer and Harman.
Headphones have been widely used and purchased for decades and will probably remain popular for many years to come. The retail value of global headphone shipments amounted to 26.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, almost tripling the size in five years. Smart headphones, also known as hearables, are one of the newest innovations driving the market. Hearables, which also include earphones and earbuds, typically come with an inbuilt microcomputer which allows for the utilization of wireless technology. Supported by advanced consumer technologies, hearables have functions such as fitness tracking, medical monitoring, access to voice assistants, and of course, the enhancement of listening experience. Therefore, it is no surprise that they quickly became a consumer favorite, with shipments reaching 170.5 million units in 2019, up from just 48.6 million units in 2018.