STAMFORD, CT - 02 SEPTEMBER 2020 – HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., focused on connected technologies for automotive, consumer, and enterprise markets, is harnessing its deep knowledge of the power of music and combining it with world-class design and cutting-edge innovation to meet consumers where they are with products and solutions that deliver listening experiences that resonate powerfully and personally.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought sweeping change to society as a whole, altering the way people live, work, and interact. The pandemic has also served as a refining force, impelling the world to simplify, to reduce, to stay close to home. For many, loneliness and anxiety have been the result. And yet, in this human challenge as in so many before it, millions have turned to music as a source of comfort, healing, and connection. If there is one thing that the pandemic has made clear, it’s that music matters – more than ever.
HARMAN has always believed in the profound benefits of music. For more than 70 years, HARMAN’s designers and engineers have devoted their passion and talent to creating products and solutions that help people enjoy those benefits to the fullest – from on-the-go speakers that can accompany listeners anywhere, to gaming headsets that give players a competitive advantage through a hyper-accurate, immersive soundscape, to home audio equipment and headphones that can turn a living room into a virtual concert hall, an efficient home-office or place to study. Now more than ever, HARMAN is committed to meeting users’ growing demand for genuine, meaningful listening experiences.
“HARMAN has built its legacy on bringing people and music together,” said Dave Rogers, President, Lifestyle Division at HARMAN. “Humanity relies on music and lives better through music. It is a reminder of what unites us, and a means of connecting with a given time. In the face of so much uncertainty today, finding that sense of connection – with the moment, with one another, with ourselves – is essential to embracing the present and building a stronger, healthier, brighter future.”
Meeting listeners where they are
Buying habits in the age of Covid-19 have evolved significantly. eCommerce in particular has seen exponential growth and at times replaced physical retail channels – generating the equivalent of the last decade’s growth within just three months according to McKinsey. Digital media platforms have benefitted from the crisis as well, with digital video, music, and gaming all seeing spikes in engagement. According to FutureSource,[i] the crisis has also caused sizeable growth in the gaming headset market. This increase in demand is linked to growing numbers of consumers using gaming as an at-home entertainment option for social distancing, in addition to consumers purchasing gaming headsets for working and studying from home. Expecting the shift to eCommerce likely to be a lasting one, HARMAN is employing a comprehensive omni-channel strategy and engaging with its community partners to meet customers where they are as well as where they shop.
Leading the way in headphone innovation
True wireless is the most important current trend in the headphones market and is set to become the new form factor for headphones in the coming years. In 2020, FutureSource predicts volumes of 186m units for true wireless, representing 64% growth. At the forefront of headphone innovation, HARMAN will continue to capitalize on this trend, focusing on its true wireless headphones’ offerings that show a triple digit year-over-year sales increase. Concerning On-Ear headphones, despite category sales falling -3.8% among competitors, JBL grew by an impressive 43%. Furthermore, headphones with Noise Cancelling technology are expected to grow 40% CAGR 2020-2024.[ii]
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Lighting up the gaming market
In the new gaming genres, audio accuracy is the key differentiator. Leveraging 70 years of acoustics experience and a strategic advantage of high-quality audio hardware to provide an improved experience for the end user, HARMAN created a true market disruptor with JBL QUANTUM headphones, the first headset range from JBL specially designed for gamers. From detecting crossfire to the slightest enemy movements, the newly introduced headsets feature the most accurate soundscape ever, enabling players to feel like they are truly playing inside the game. In developing JBL QUANTUM, HARMAN’s engineers thought far outside the “box,” building a spherical setup of 34 loudspeakers designed to simulate sound fields around a user. Dubbed the “Hyperion Sphere,” it enabled HRTF datasets to be measured and used to validate the performance of the virtualization algorithm by comparing how accurately users could localize virtual sources vs real sources.
Initial feedback and sales have been encouraging, as are market forecasts: In 2020, gaming headset market volume is expected to increase by 20% globally, and by 2024 the market is forecasted to reach 54.8M units globally, progressing at a 2020-24 volume CAGR of 11%.[iii]
Amplifying the reach of High-Res quality
Studies have shown that listeners want and expect high-quality sound, and are willing to pay more in exchange for it.[iv] Traditionally the domain of luxury customers looking for optimal quality, High-Resolution audio has also been widely used by professional recording studios and audiophiles for the past 15 years. But thanks to recent developments within the mainstream audio market, this format is stepping into the spotlight. With the growth of compatible wireless speakers, soundbars and wireless headphones, High-Res adoption has been experiencing strong development, and as the number of High-Res streaming subscribers continues to grow, the addressable audience for premium audio products is likely to follow suit, thus benefitting the entire audio market. Furthermore, increasing storage capacity in smartphones, wider availability of Wi-Fi networks in public spaces, larger mobile data subscriptions and faster download speeds via 4G/5G or fiber at home mean that High-Resolution is becoming more accessible than ever.
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[i] Source: FutureSource, Perspective on COVID-19
[ii] Source: Futuresource, Headphones Market Report Worldwide Outlook 2020
[iii] Source: FutureSource, Gaming Headsets & Accessories, May 2020
[iv] Source: FutureSource, Harman Art of Listening Consumer Research study, July 2018
HARMAN International (harman.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co, LTD., designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide, including connected car systems, audio and visual products, enterprise automation solutions; and services supporting the Internet of Things. With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson® and Revel®, HARMAN is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform around the world. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and connected car systems. Our software services power billions of mobile devices and systems that are connected, integrated and secure across all platforms, from work and home to car and mobile. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 30,000 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. In March 2017, HARMAN became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics.