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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