Audio is playing a key role in consumer lives across content types, says Dolby’s Ashim Mathur

Ever since the transition to a homebound economy, smartphones have increasingly become an integral part of an individual’s everyday lifestyle. As per a new study by CyberMedia Research, Indian consumers are now prioritizing audio quality as a key smartphone purchase driver. The study – aimed at understanding how consumers are consuming content – underlined the importance given to audio quality and what users seek while purchasing their next smartphone. The findings showcased that 69% smartphone users seek enhanced audio experience on smartphones. The study also established that for smartphone users in India, Dolby Atmos is essential for an enhanced and immersive audio experience. In this regard, Ramesh Kumar Raja talks to Ashim Mathur, Senior Regional Director, Japan & Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories, to discuss the current audio consumption pattern in the new normal and how Dolby is enhancing and elevating the experience for smartphone users through Dolby Atmos, whether in terms of music, episodic content, gaming etc. Excerpts:

Why is audio becoming so important for a smartphone user? What factors are driving this trend?

In these times of a homebound work, there is an exponential rise in online video content consumption by the masses thereby creating a significant demand for richer smartphone audio quality that consumers do not want to compromise on.

To understand this changing consumer sentiment, Cyber Media Research (CMR), a leading research and consulting firm, conducted the study titled, “What Audio Means for Smartphone Users?”. The study reveals consumer insights on audio for smartphones and consumer preference for quality audio experiences. Consumers are more tuned into ‘audio quality’, possibly driven by long hours spent alone in a homebound economy. In doing so, they are also seeking better, immersive experiences whenever and wherever they go and across use cases.

What are the most preferred content forms driving people to take the audio quality seriously while purchasing a smartphone?

After a year and more of social distancing, audio consumption trends have further intensified. The consumer relationship with audio is constantly evolving. Audio is playing a key role in consumer lives across content types – episodic shows, music, movies, live sports, or mobile gaming. According to the CMR study, movies (86%), music (82%), user-generated content (68%) are the three most-preferred content forms for consumers on their smartphones. Beyond movies and music, consumers consume audio across specific use contexts, including Live TV (75%), Gaming (68%), and watching sports (58%) amongst others. Long-form content consumption is on the rise. There has been a 67% increase in consumers watching longer content online (>2 hours) than a year ago. In 2021, consumers made a leap from freemium to premium on OTT platforms. There is 9% rise in paid subscription over last year.

Which age group is more inclined towards the smartphone audio quality?

The study reveals that across the board- digital natives (18-24 years), digital dependents (25-30 years), or digital laggards (31-40 years), smartphone audio quality is the top-most purchase driver (69%), ahead of camera and battery.

Also Read: We understand closely what the Indian youth demands: Crossbeats Co-founder

How does Dolby Atmos provide an enhanced immersive experience for smartphone users?

Dolby Atmos for mobile is an audio technology that revolutionizes how you and your customers will experience various content. With Dolby Atmos, sounds envelop them in a rich soundscape with astonishing clarity, depth, and detail. Dolby Atmos renders each sound with lifelike detail and clarity, making it easier to detect the subtle, but game-changing sounds that would normally be stifled by competing sounds. It is a premium entertainment experience that helps you feel a deeper connection to the movies, shows, music, sports, and games you love.

The survey highlights that three in every four smartphone users are aware of Dolby Atmos technology and 90% are willing to recommend Dolby Atmos enabled content or smartphone to their family and friends.

“Dolby Atmos for mobile is an audio technology that revolutionizes how you and your customers will experience various content. With Dolby Atmos, sounds envelop them in a rich soundscape with astonishing clarity, depth, and detail. Dolby Atmos renders each sound with lifelike detail and clarity, making it easier to detect the subtle, but game-changing sounds that would normally be stifled by competing sounds”

How is Dolby leveraging this trend? How is it exactly benefitting the OEMs?

Online content consumption – movies and music, have witnessed tremendous growth over the past few years. Content consumption on the go, and at home has risen considerably with the increase in affordable and value for money smartphones. People love to binge watch on video streaming platforms, cutting across genres, including episodic content and user-generated video content on social media. In this new normal, immersive, and enhanced smartphone audio is a key priority for consumers.

Smartphone brands are responding to these emerging consumer needs, with advanced technology solutions, such as Dolby Atmos. The consumer survey points out that consumers seek Dolby Atmos-enabled smartphone audio experiences for their favourite content- movies (88%), music (79%) and mobile gaming (65%) more than ever before. As we move forward, the battleground will keep shifting. Smartphone OEMs will seek to respond to consumer demand for best-in-class experiences.

What’s your plan for the India market to take audio experience to the next level?

It is our constant endeavor to deliver breakthrough experiences to billions of people worldwide through a collaborative ecosystem spanning artists, businesses, and consumers. We wish to continue our work with content creators by providing them the tools that enable them to bring the end consumer closer to their stories and to their original intent. We will continue our work with delivery platforms like broadcast and OTT services both for streaming video and music content. And last but not the least, with the playback ecosystem of devices across living room and mobile. We believe when the content, the service and the device are in Dolby, the consumers get the best experience.

Also Read: Chipsets are the driving force of any innovation today: UNISOC EVP

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