At Dolby, we believe that sound is an essential element of all great entertainment experiences, whether in the cinema, at home on TV, or on a smartphone or tablet.

To find out whether consumers felt the same way, we asked market researchers at Parks Associates to survey tablet and smartphone owners in the United States, France, Germany, China, and South Korea. The results were eye-opening.

Research finds audio quality a consideration when purchasing mobile devices by age

Research Finds Audio Quality a Consideration When Purchasing Mobile Devices by Age

In the United States, younger consumers were the most likely to say that the audio quality of entertainment functions is a consideration when they choose a mobile device to buy. Eighty-five percent of tablet and smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 24, and 79 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 44, said that audio quality was a consideration, compared to only 65 percent of respondents over age 55.

In France and Germany, younger consumers were more likely to consider audio as well, and those over 55 were the least likely to say that sound quality was a factor in choosing a device.

But in South Korea, older consumers were more likely to care about sound: 89 percent of those over 55 years of age and 79 percent of those between 45 and 54 said the audio quality of the entertainment functions was a purchase consideration.

In China, the vast majority of mobile consumers (94 percent) reported caring about audio quality when choosing a device—and there were no marked differences between age groups.

In most of the countries surveyed, men and women were equally likely to say they consider audio quality when choosing a device, with one notable exception: in Germany, a higher percentage of women (75 percent) report considering sound quality than do men (64 percent.)

Until they’ve heard it for themselves, many people find it hard to believe that it’s possible to get surround sound even from small mobile devices. They’ve gotten used to low-quality sound on smartphones and tablets, and their expectations are very low.

That’s why, as part of this study, researchers asked participants to report how important audio quality was, twice: once before hearing a demonstration of the best-in-class mobile audio that Dolby can make possible, and again after hearing that demonstration.

The number of participants who said they considered quality audio as a purchase factor for smartphones and tablets went up dramatically after they heard the demonstration of Dolby® sound.

Here’s how much those numbers changed:

  • United States: from 74 to 91 percent (up 17 percentage points)
  • France: from 74 to 86 percent (up 12 points)
  • Germany: from 70 to 81 percent (up 11 points)
  • China: from 94 to 97 percent (up 3 points)
  • South Korea: from 72 to 90 percent (up 18 points)

It turns out that hearing is believing.