It might hurt to hear but Apple’s Airpods are 2019’s most popular ‘hearable’

Worldwide shipments are up 94% year-over-year for wearables and Apple’s true wireless AirPods are leading the charge.

According to a new report by IDC, the wearable industry has seen a 94% growth in the number of global shipments in the third quarter of 2019 from Q3 2018. According to the report, ‘Hearables’ – or true wireless headphones – are taking the lead in wearable sales, followed by fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Of all the wearable brands, Apple has supplied the most shipments in Q3 2019.

The company sent out 29.5 million shipments of the Apple Watch, AirPods and Beats this quarter, occupying a massive 35% of the market share. That’s a year-over-year growth of 195%.

Next up is Xiaomi with 12.4 million shipments of its popular Mi Band fitness trackers which saw an increase of sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East compared to last year. Samsung, Huawei and Fitbit also made the cut with 8.3, 7.1 and 3.5 million shipments, respectively.

Read our review of the Apple Airpods Pro

As far as categories are concerned, earwear topped the chart with 40.7 shipments – almost half of the total market share. This rise came at the expense of other wearables though, with wristbands, smartwatches and others down around 7% in each category.

Research director for IDC’s Wearables Team Ramon T. Llamas equates the rise of the hearables market with the loss of the headphone jack.

“Hearables have become the new go-to product for the wearables market”, said Llamas. “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”.

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While Apple certainly wasn’t the first to drop the jack, the controversy around the iPhone 7 did put the port in the spotlight, eventually prompting other industry giants to follow Apple’s lead.

It makes sense that Apple’s own true wireless earbuds would stand to benefit most from the movement, though the Apple Watch and its acquisition of Beats in 2014 certainly must have helped the company reach its wearable shipment targets.

Of course, shipment figures don’t always equal the number of products sold but this data does give us a good idea of what people are buying in 2019 and what is being left in the dust.

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