IDC has released its data from the Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker which found that global wearable device shipments grew 85.2% in the second quarter of 2019 (2Q19) totalling 67.7 million units.
One of the most rapidly growing wearables categories was earworn devices, otherwise known as hearables, which accounted for 46.9% of the overall wearables market during the quarter, up from 24.8% a year ago. The growth was attributed to new products and consumers who purchased their second wearable, a hearable, to use in parallel with existing watches or wrist bands.
IDC defines hearables as the wearables that hang on or plug into the ear. The device must operate wirelessly and provide stereo sound while also including one of the following: health and fitness tracking, audio modification (not just noise reduction), language translation on the device, or enabling smart assistants at the touch of a button or through hotword detection even if the assistant is running on another device such as a smartphone.
Of the top five hearables companies highlighted in the report:
- Apple led the market for hearables, capturing 50.2% share during the quarter. New products included the refreshed AirPods and the latest from the Beats lineup helped the company grow 218.2% compared to last year.
- Samsung was ranked second thanks to its self-branded devices and the JBL brand. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds were one of the company’s most popular pair of hearables which was bundled with the purchase of Samsung’s latest smartphone.
- Xiaomi’s AirDots (amongst other models) helped the company capture the third position. Xiaomi’s mainly sells hearables in China, but is making inroads in European and Middle East markets with its smartphones and wrist bands. IDC has predicted that Xiaomi to follow suit with its hearables.
- Bose ranked fourth in the hearable market. The QC35ii and the SoundSport Free were two of its most popular products during the quarter. IDC has forecast that the latest Headphones 700 and upcoming Earbuds 500 should help the company maintain momentum in the upcoming quarters.
- GN Group, the parent company of Jabra, rounded out the top 5 with 5.1% share and 132.9% growth. Jabra’s Elite Active 65t have been extremely popular as an alternative to Apple’s AirPods and have also been promoted heavily on Amazon’s store, allowing the company to pitch itself as a strong consumer brand in addition to its preexisting headset business that is targeted at office workers.
“The growing popularity of the hearables segment is forcing existing brands to reconsider past designs when launching new products, as evident in Samsung’s popular Galaxy Buds, while also attracting new brands to market,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “And though it’s still early days, the market is showing signs of emerging subsegments such as hearables dedicated to sports from the likes of Jabra, premium hearables from companies such as Bose, and ones dedicated to hearing loss such as those from Nuheara.”
“What has been driving the hearables market is the experience,” added Ramon T. Llamas, research director, Wearables. “Quality audio is still the hallmark of hearables, but additional features – ranging from adjusting audio to smart assistants and health and fitness – increase their value and utility. As prices come down and more features come on board, this next generation of hearables will become the new normal for earphones.”