The returns to technology vendors for ditching the headphone jack are becoming increasingly clear. IDC reported that global shipments of wearable devices including ear-worn buds hit 84.5 million units in the third quarter, up 94.6% from a year ago.
IDC said wearable market share gains were driven by hearables, also know as ear buds. IDC analyst Ramon Llamas noted that the hearables boom "began with multiple vendors removing the headphone jack from their smartphones, driving the move toward wireless headphones."
And now ear buds are getting new functionality and form factors to further drive sales and there's a mass market to be had.
The wearable market is dominated by earwear, a market that is enjoying a boom partly due to the end of the headphone jack on smartphones.
Now the IDC's leader data isn't that surprising. Among the moving parts:
- Apple led the wearable pack with its Apple Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones. AirPods Pro will further drive sales. AirPods Pro review: Noise cancellation and improved design are valuable additions
- Xiaomi's Mi band expanded its reach into Europe and was No. 2.
- Samsung was No. 3 as it has been able to bundle its new watches as well as hearables with its Galaxy line of smartphones. Samsung also owns JBL. Samsung relatively recently started ditching the headphone jacks on its smartphones.
- Huawei was No. 4 largely due to demand in China.
- And Fitbit, which doesn't have a hearable play, was No. 5 with its tracker and smartwatches. IDC did note that Google's acquisition of Fitibit "fills the brand's future with uncertainty." Fitbit is doomed: Here's why everything Google buys turns to garbage | Google buys Fitbit for $2.1 billion