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Wearable Shipments Up 85%, ‘Hearables’ Soar

Ear-worn devices (hearables) were among the fast-growing categories in Q2 2019, capturing almost half of the overall global wearable device market, according to new data from the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

Global wearable devices shipments grew 85.2% totalling 67.7 million units shipped, with 46.9% from the hearables category, up from 24.8% a year ago.

The IDC defines hearables as a wearable device that hangs on or plugs into the ear.

The device must operate wirelessly, with stereo sound and must include one of the following features:

  • Track health/ fitness.
  • Modify audio (not just noise reduction).
  • Provide language translation.
  • Enable smart assistants with a button or touch gesture or by using hot word detection.

“The growing popularity of the hearables segment is forcing existing brands to reconsider past designs when launching new products,” said IDC mobile device trackers research manager Jitesh Ubrani.

Secondary wearable products – hearables – to use in parallel with existing smartwatches or smart bands are credited with driving growth.

Apple took the lead in the hearable market, capturing a significant 50.25% share during Q2. 

New products like the Airpods 2 and the latest Beats lineup, assisted in the 218.2% year-on-year growth compared to last year. 

Apple’s closest competitor, Samsung, holds only a fifth of the total share at 10.2%.

However, thanks to its self-branded devices like the Galaxy Buds and the JBL brand, Samsung grew 252.1% YOY.

The most significant growth came from Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, increasing by a massive 714.8% YOY, despite only holding a 6.5% market share. 

Xiaomi’s market share is expected to grow as the company moves beyond China to other markets such as Europe and the Middle East. 

According to Mr Ubrani, the market is showing signs of sub-segmentation through the introduction of hearable devices dedicated to areas such as sports and hearing loss.

Research director Ramon T. Llamas suggests ‘experience’ is driving the hearables market, claiming that additional features… increase the value and utility of hearable devices for consumers.

The hearables segment of the wearable market is expected to grow exponentially with new earwear products continuously announced.

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