Look What's Happening to Ears!
Companies old and new, from around the world, rushed into the headphone space hoping to be the next Beats.
And 95 percent of those entrants offer very little legitimate differentiation from one another outside of superficial styling and branding. As a result, outside of the top brands, throughput at retail for other follow-on brands is just not that impressive. Then there's a huge rolloff in revenues at the mid-tier level, where all of the other brands are competing for shelf space and beating each other up over price. You then see a large increase again in volume at the low-end price-points, where literally thousands of completely non-differentiable "junk SKUs" are sold at everything from 7-Elevens and truck stops to high-school cafeteria vending machines. Those devalue the vital role that headphones can play in bringing great sound to an "always on, always connected" populus.
But there's some really good news slowly percolating up from the ooze: Headphone technology is about to change massively, due to the inclusion of micro sensors (multi-axis accelerometers, barometric pressure sensors, capacitance triggers, and a multitude of in-ear or on-ear biometric sensors). When these sensors are integrated into headphones and earphones, communicating directly with a consumer's smartphone, unbelievable new advancements can be made.
Customers can check their vitals, receive exercise and fitness coaching, vary their playlists based on their core stats or mood, summon Siri, obtain the next turn-by-turn direction while walking down the street in a foreign city—y—see illustration.)
—providing unprecedented levels of flexibility and control without users ever having to touch a tiny watch screen, or remove their phones from their purses or pockets. In fact, the smartest app developers are already considering ways for consumers to control more and more aspects of the user interface without having to touch their smartwatch or smartphone screens at all.