Wednesday 12 February 2020

DAB Radio Sales Fiasco in Norway

The electronics industry missed on its own forecasts in spite of FM switch-off.  Read our analysis.
Today, the Norwegian Electronics Industry Foundation presented sales figures for 2019 for television sets radio receivers, mobile phones and other electronics products. While turnover increases overall, there are several types of products Norwegians bought less of during the year. Most notable decline is DAB receivers. According to the Electronics industry's own forecasts from 2017, the Norwegians would buy a total of over 1.1 million DAB radios in 2019, distributed on portabel radios, car equipment and integrated tuners in other equipment. 

Norwegians bought a total of 650,000 units, 48,000 fewer than in 2018 and well below what the forecasts predicted two years ago. The figure includes DAB in car, adapters, table radios, music system with DAB and retrofitted DAB radio for cars.

- The transition has been faster than we thought. Radio sales are now back to the level before the conversion to DAB. DAB sales are also related to other factors, such as new car sales and radio music sales, says Marte Ottemo, head of communications at the Stiftelsen Electronics Industry.

The Norwegians, on the other hand, spend more money on headphones. In total, they purchased 960,000 headphones in 2019, and an increasing proportion of these will be wireless. Sales increased nine percent from 2018 to 2019.

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It is quite bewildering to learn about this sales crash because Norway is the only country which has closed its national FM networks with a complete transition to DAB+. But it is not surprising as quite a lot of listeners are dissatisfied or straight out angry to be forced to replace their receivers.

Also the DAB system has been welcome by the consumer as an upgrade rather there have been many complaints regarding inferior sound quality, drop-outs and so on.

Less than 40% of the population is now listening to the public broadcaster NRK now on DAB+ only.  However many Norwegians are rather online listeners and also there still local radio on FM as well as cross-border listening on Danish and Swedish FM radio.

WorldDAB recently published global DAB sales figures. The lobby organisation says that there are 75 million DAB receivers.  However, this is a cumulative sum from 1995 when the system was introduced in Norway, Sweden and the U.K.  Most receivers are also found today in just a handful of countries;  Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia and the U.K.   

WorldDAB figures should also be placed in the right perspective. There are more than 
6 billion of FM receivers in the world. The listening platform to challenge FM will be digital radio on the Internet.  Today there are 2,5 billion smartphones in the world.

DAB in Norway seems to have quite a hopeless uphill battle for survival.

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