Qualcomm Technologies released its 2019 State of Play Report (SoP) earlier this month at the IFA Berlin, the world's leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances.
Qualcomm's SoP Report is published annually and based on a survey of 6,000 smartphone users aged between 16 and 64 across the U.S., UK, and China. This year, it was expanded to include Japan, India, and Germany.
The SoP Report's Main Findings
While the full report uncovers many findings, some of which are new and very interesting, there are a few key trends driving the audio technology industry.
According to the SoP report, it is wireless sound quality that is the number one purchase driver across all consumer audio project categories. This has been the case for the past four-or-so years. This has largely been caused by the onset and growth of truly wireless audio devices such as Apple AirPods.
According to Qualcomm’s State of Play report, consumers value the audio quality of wireless devices most when making purchases. Image courtesy of Qualcomm.
James Chapman, Vice President and General Manager of Voice, Music & Wearables at Qualcomm Technologies said "Consumer audio is an exciting and rapidly evolving space. Our report highlights that great sound quality remains vitally important to consumers, and that the majority now believe they can get ‘as good as wired’ sound with Bluetooth connectivity.
Additionally, it shows the swift adoption of truly wireless earbuds and smart speakers - categories that are underpinned by the innovations our customers are bringing to market using Qualcomm’s technologies..."
It was also reported that consumers rate more playback time and on-device gaming as key purchase drivers, too; 2019 marks the first year that battery life has been on par with sound quality in terms as importance as a purchase factor, and 31% of Qualcomm's respondents said that they use wireless headphones while gaming.
Audio Devices Are About More Than Audio
If anything, Qualcomm's 2019 SoP Report has demonstrated that while audio quality is the main factor for driving purchases, the hallmarks of an excellent consumer audio device include a whole lot more.
Consumers want to do more than simply listen to music through their audio devices. This means that makers and designers must keep in mind additional features such as audio control, touch response, and low latency streaming to give rise to smarter, more immersive listening experiences that complement different use cases.
Qualcomm are already ahead with this—the company unveiled its new Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 networking chip back in February. Its QCA6390 is a 14-nanometer SoC that integrates full suites of Bluetooth 5.1 and Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax with reduced latency and MU-MIMO.
Additionally, as more and more smart, better, and more powerful features are packed into audio devices, there may be a need to improve current and develop new battery technologies that can keep up and maintain the longer battery lives that buyers are looking for not only in their audio devices, but other battery-powered devices as a whole.
What is Qualcomm Technologies?
Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. is a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated and a global audio and connectivity leader.