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Hearables - Statistics & Facts

Hearables - smart audio equipment worn in or over the ear – provide an entirely new experience compared with traditional headsets. As well as simply playing audio, hearables can perform functions such as controlling other devices, making and receiving phone calls, monitoring fitness indicators, and connecting with digital assistants including Alexa and Google Assistant. It is their versatility that has seen hearables drive rapid growth of the overall wearables market in 2019, with shipments of the devices surging from 48.6 million in 2018, to 170.5 million units in 2019.

Within the hearables sector, true wireless stereo (TWS) headsets saw the largest growth. TWS headsets consist of two separate in-ear audio devices, that are not connected to each other or an input device such as a phone, other than wirelessly. In the third quarter of 2018, vendors shipped 15 million TWS headsets globally. By the third quarter of 2019, this figure reached 42.5 million. Shipments of wireless earphones and wireless headphones also increased during this time, with increases of 1.5 million units and 4 million units respectively.

Much of the growth experienced in the TWS sector is fueled by the popularity of the Apple AirPod TWS headset. Current generation AirPods make use of Apple's newer H1 bluetooth chip, optimizing the connection with Apple devices, making them an ideal choice for iPhone owners. The pairing of AirPods and the iPhone has seen Apple take a 43 percent share of the TWS market, with next-closest rival Xiaomi holding just seven percent.

While the short-term impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on production and distribution of hearables is not yet known, the long-term future of the product category seems bright. The entire wearables market, of which hearables currently make up the largest part, is expected to climb from shipments of 368.2 million units in 2020, to reach 526.8 million units in 2024.

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