Earworn devices, known as hearables (think Apple AirPods), are seeing major growth, according to a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC). Global hearable device shipments were 31.8 million in second quarter 2019.
Hearables now represent 46.9% of the overall wearables category, up from 24.8% a year ago. Their increased popularity helped drive an 85.2% increase in wearable device shipments in the second quarter. Global shipments of wearable devices were just short of 68 million in second quarter.
The growth in hearables was driven by new products and by consumers purchasing hearables to use in combination with existing wearables such as watches or wrist bands.
Apple was responsible for just over half (50.2%) of the hearable market during the quarter as refreshed AirPods and new Beats offerings led to a 218.2% increase compared to the same period a year ago. Samsung finished second thanks to the popularity of the highly publicized Galaxy Buds. Additionally, the JBL Tune 500BT managed to capture a large share as the low price and wide availability helped move a lot of volume.
“What has been driving the hearables market is the experience,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director, Wearables for IDC in a press release. “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.”