Report: Wearables Shipments Surged, Thanks to Hearables

Posted on December 10, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple Watch, Fitbit, Wearables with 5 Comments

IDC reported this week that wearables shipments “surged” in Q3, thanks mostly to an expanding market for so-called hearables. The smallest part of this market? Smartwatches.

“Hearables have become the new go-to product for the wearables market,” IDC’s Ramon Llamas said in a prepared statement. “This began with multiple vendors removing the headphone jack from their smartphones, driving the move toward wireless headphones. It continued with hearables incorporating additional features that either augment or expand the audio experience. Next, hearables have taken on multiple form factors – ranging from truly wireless to over-the-ear headphones – appealing to a broad base of earwear user preferences. Finally, prices have come down significantly, with some reaching below $20.”

Hardware makers sold 84.5 million wearable devices in the third quarter of 2019, a gain of 95 percent year-over-year. But almost half of those devices were hearables, and that part of the market saw sales jump an incredible 242 percent YOY. Hearables represent 48.1 percent of the wearable market, compared to 22.7 percent for fitness bands (with almost 50 percent growth YOY) and 20.9 percent for smartwatches (with 48 percent growth YOY).

Apple is the worldwide leader in wearables. IDC says Apple sold 29.5 million wearables in the quarter, mostly AirPods and Beats headphones, and landed at 35 percent market share, representing growth of 196 percent YOY. Xiaomi came in second place with 12.4 million units sold (and 14.6 percent market share), followed by Samsung (8.3 million/9.8 percent), Huawei (7.1 million/8.4 percent), and Fitbit (3.5 million/4.1 percent).

Aside from Fitbit, all of the top five players saw massive growth in Q3: Xiaomi wearable sales jumped 66 percent, Samsung was up 156 percent, and Huawei surged 203 percent. Fitbit was relatively flat, YOY, with .5 percent growth, which might explain its pending acquisition by Google.

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Comments (5)

5 responses to “Report: Wearables Shipments Surged, Thanks to Hearables”

  1. Daekar

    Do these numbers include things like Plantronics headsets primarily intended for calls? I got one when I moved into a new position at work owing to the increased number of phone calls I needed to take, and I have to say I really like it. Leaves the ear canal open so your hearing isn't impeded, slides over the ear so it never falls off, big enough to get more reasonable battery life than things like Airpods, and has a mic array so the person on the other end can actually hear my voice better. Most importantly, it leaves the other ear open completely, which has a big positive impact on social interactions.


    I rarely use it to listen to music, preferring books, video, or podcasts, but using it has been a very educational experience. Out of consideration for others, I previously operated my digital world more or less on mute most of the time. No rings, no notification tones, no TTS, etc. I feel like a partially deaf person that just got their first hearing aid - sound can now be an integral part of my computing experience almost regardless of context - at least, until I get out of work. I make sure to unplug and take the thing off when I go home.... you can have too much of a good thing.

  2. MikeGalos

    So wearables, as they've been previously defined, are actually down but by suddenly counting headphones inside of wearables lets us pretend they're up?


    Comparisons are done like vs. like. Or, as these numbers appear to promote, Apples to Apples.

  3. Stooks

    Yet another Billion business for Apple.


    Honestly it would not surprise me if Apple has made a billion (in revenue) off of the Homepod. If they sold 3 million of them it would put them over 1 billion in Revenue. I can't find any numbers on it that are recent.

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