Hearables continue to capture the attention of consumers, with new data from Futuresource Consulting showing 37% global growth in 2021, ending the year on close to 300 million shipments. And as the markets for hearables and hearing health products converge, hearing aids are also on the rise. After a difficult 2020, with COVID-19 restrictions deterring visits to audiologists, the market rebounded, posting 17% year-on-year growth, to achieve 22.5 million shipments in 2021.
“There’s a whole world of opportunity unfolding for the hearables segment,” says Saranraj Mathivanan, Senior Market Analyst, Futuresource Consulting. “In the USA, new FDA regulations are introducing a new class of devices that can be purchased over the counter, rather than through certified medical channels. This will result in a slew of new releases in the medical grade OTC segment by the second half of 2022. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation estimates one in five people have some form of hearing loss, which is expected to increase to one in four by 2050.
“What’s more, the hearing aid market is far from saturated, with only 7% of those with hearing impediments owning a hearing aid. Combine this with the growing popularity of hearables, and we’ll see a widening section of the population begin to adopt hearing assistive devices in the longer term.”
Smartphone brands continue to dominate the hearables market, with Apple leading the pack, and Xiaomi and Samsung occupying second and third positions. Futuresource expects smartphone vendor dominance to continue, with many offering industry-leading features and positioning themselves as an extension of the mobile experience.
While entertainment is still the primary use case for hearables, communication has started to emerge. The COVID-19 pandemic has been the key driver, with many consumers using the microphone capabilities on hearable devices for voice and video calls, both socially and for work.
“Moving forward, we expect hearables to continue their ascendance,” says Mathivanan. “Our forecasts show that, by 2025, global shipments will grow to 660 million units. We’ll also see smartphone attachment rates more than double during the same timeframe, underlining the burgeoning consumer love affair with hearable tech.”
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