Audio Component Sales Recovering From Slump – Consumer Electronics Association statistics which showed double-digit declines in retail home component sales last year have improved to single-digit decline the first five months of this year, are expected to return to growth the second half of 2006. A number of factors have influenced the improving picture for home audio components: Major price declines in flat-panel TV prices – allowing more to be spent on better audio components, a greater demand for AV receivers with customer-friendly features and their emergence as control centers for high-performance home theater systems, and more aggressive approaches on the sales floor to demonstrate the advantages of quality audio components over a typical HTiB (or even worse – the speakers built into video displays).
Another optimistic factor in component sales is occurring in the custom installation business. Growth in single-family new housing has begun to slow down, with the result that the retrofit and MDU market is becoming more important. (Time to learn another new acronym: MDU = multiple-dwelling-unit.) Consumers are continuing to spend great sums of money on improvements to their already-existing homes, and home theater and automation are the big attractions to families.
Video Displays Continue to Get Larger – At this January’s CES, Samsung Electronics made a big splash with their 102 inch plasma TV screen. Sharp has the largest LCD display at 65 inches. Market research is showing most consumers currently want a screen 50 to 55 inches size, but projections are that by 2009 the preferred size will be 60 inches. Front projectors are the fastest-growing category in video today, and within reason screen size is almost unlimited with them. New homes are getting larger, so this doesn’t seem like a problem. The average new home is 2,434 sq. ft. – 62% larger than homes built in 1970. And about 10% of new homes are being built with a so-called media room – but it could be just a basement or rec room. As screens enlarge it is becoming more difficult to find a suitable place to put them in the home. Proper viewing distance is another consideration: the bigger the screen, the further back one should sit. A rule of thumb is 2 1/2 times the diagonal measurement of the screen for standard TV, and 1 1/2 times for HDTV.