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How the demise of the headphone jack led to a ear buds boom

Ear buds, or hearables, are driving a boom in wearable devices, according to IDC data. It all started as vendors started dropping the headphone jack en masse.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

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:

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