Daily Updates, Future Ear Radio

The Booming Hearables Market (Future Ear Daily Update 5-30-19)

Hearables Comprise 1/3 of all Wearables Device Sales

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The International Data Corporation (IDC) released its 2019 Q1 wearable market data today, stating that 49.6 million wearable devices shipped in the first quarter of the year and that wearables as a whole experienced 55.2% year-over-year growth. It’s clear that wearables are doing well overall in terms of market adoption, but the real story with this data is around the growth of hearables.

Hearables, or ear-worn wearables, grew 135% year-over-year and now comprise 34.6% of all wearables sales. So, just doing a little back of the napkin math, we can estimate that about 17 million hearables were sold in 2019 and at their current rate there would be about 68 million hearables sold in 2019. My guess is that number will ultimately be higher, as I would bet that the growth rate continues to increase. Why? Well, let’s look at why this segment of the wearables market is growing in the first place.

According to Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC, “The elimination of headphone jacks and the increased usage of smart assistants both inside and outside the home have been driving factors in the growth of ear-worn wearables.”


The death of the headphone jack only accelerated the consumer shift toward Bluetooth headsets that was already fast underway. Apple described their move to kill the headphone jack as “courageous”, when in reality, they were seeing the writing on the wall and realized that the majority of people were already buying wireless Bluetooth headsets when the iPhone 7 was released. All the handset manufacturers followed suit, which has continued to push people toward truly wireless headsets.

According to Voicebot.ai’s Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption report from March 2019, 66.4 million U.S. adults own a smart speaker, comprising 26.2% of the U.S. adult population. As Jitesh pointed out, people are beginning to get accustomed to voice technology via their smart assistant-filled speakers. So as those same smart assistants are now beginning to move into hearables, that aspect of the devices might appeal to the quarter of US adults who own smart speakers.

We are at the very early stages of smart assistant technology and as our assistants evolve and mature in their capabilities to the point where they’re serving as a primary method of computing for users, this dimension to hearables is only going to become more appealing. While 17 million quarterly hearables units sold and 155% annual growth is an awesome sight to see, I would bet that we’re only at the beginning of this product category’s growth.

-Thanks for Reading-


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