GN Store Nord Gets Wireless-Speaker Boost as Apple Changes Port

Apple Inc. changing the iPhone’s charging port is a boon to GN Store Nord A/S’s mobile unit, which predicts that a push into portable music speakers will lead to sales rising as much as 20 percent this year.

“Apple’s change has led to many users leaving their docking stations and going mobile,” said Anne Raaen Rasmussen, head of mobile at GN Store Nord, in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “Smartphones and tablets are being used for music and it’s your primary music device. People are tired of using docking stations.”

Apple’s decision to equip the iPhone 5 with its Lightning connector instead of the port used in earlier models left many music lovers with outdated docking stations. GN Store Nord’s Solemate portable speaker, which connects to the iPhone wirelessly using Bluetooth technology, is doing “fantastic” and will help drive sales this year, Rasmussen said.

The market for wireless portable speakers is booming, led by the colorful, blackboard-eraser size Jambox made by San Francisco-based Jawbone. The market for such portable Bluetooth speakers grew by more than 500 percent last year in the U.S. and 800 percent in Europe, Rasmussen said.

The Mobile unit of Ballerup, Denmark-based GN Store Nord, saw so-called organic sales jump 11 percent to 825 million kroner ($144 million) last year. Now it expects revenue to climb 15 percent to 20 percent in 2013, supported by a push into music, Rasmussen said. The mobile unit accounts for about 13 percent of the company’s sales.

Music Push

The mobile market for devices integrating voice communication and music is expected to soar 60 percent to 8 billion kroner in 2015 from 5 billion kroner last year, GN Store Nord said Jan. 21.

GN Store Nord shares have soared 26 percent so far this year and were up 0.9 percent at 103.1 kroner at 1:30 p.m. in Copenhagen.

The company, which makes wireless headsets as well as hearing aids, unveiled the Solemate in the third quarter to challenge the Jambox.

“People are starting to use hands free in different ways now, not just in the car, but in the office or with a tablet,” Rasmussen said. “I wouldn’t say Bluetooth is cool yet, but it’s beginning to change its reputation.”

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