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True Wireless Headphones Demand Up 182% in Q4 2018

Headphones Market Research, Analysis and Commentary

The global headphones market continued its meteoric rise in Q4 2018, with revenue growth outpacing unit shipments by a substantial margin, according to new quarterly figures released by Futuresource Consulting. The firm’s latest headphones tracking report reveals worldwide Q4 headphones shipments grew by 5.5% in units and 54% in revenues year-on-year.

Building on Past Success

“This upsurge builds on the upbeat results from Q3, pushing shipments to almost 130 million units for Q4 and exceeding $8.5 billion in revenue,” says Adriana Blanco, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “When it comes to headphones, consumers continue to demand the very best from their audio experiences, craving extended feature sets and seeking out premium brands. That, combined with the usual gifting uptick associated with the holiday season, has resulted in some tremendous results for the industry.”

True Wireless Working Hard

Shipments of true wireless headphones stole the show, outperforming every other form factor in growth terms, with units increasing by 182% and a tripling of value. Still dominated by Apple AirPods, True Wireless accounted for 11.5% of overall volumes worldwide.
The over-ear headphones segment continued to build out its average price, hitting another historical high, fuelled by the ever-growing popularity of wireless, noise-cancelling models such as Bose’s QC 35 II, as well as a notable performance from Sony’s latest WH-1000XM3 in the run up to the holidays.

Wireless headphones accounted for over half of all headphones shipped in the quarter, whilst demand for sport headphones grew 12% year-on-year, as many brands continue to incorporate waterproof features and promote sport as one of the primary use cases.

Brands Battle it Out

“Looking to the brands, Sony continued to lead the pack in volume, although second place Apple gained share,” says Blanco. “In value terms, Apple claimed the top spot, largely thanks to its success with AirPods, whilst JBL strengthened its leading position in the $25-$100 segment.”

The headphones quarterly market tracking report from Futuresource provides a regular update on the state of the worldwide headphones market, breaking out six regions and 12 countries. Market data for this latest report instalment covers the period from Q4 2016 to Q4 2018.

Date Published:

Adriana Blanco

About the author

Adriana Blanco

Adriana joined Futuresource Consulting in 2018 and is a member of the Consumer Electronics research team, focusing on consumer headphones. Her main responsibilities include quarterly tracking of this segment by brand, by type(In-ear, true wireless, on-ear and over-ear) and by region, identifying key trends driving this market and analysing data gathered to develop meaningful market estimates and forecast.

Prior to joining Futuresource Consulting, Adriana spent 18 years at Gartner as a member of the Semiconductor team, focusing on research on the vendor side.

Adriana holds a Bachelor of Science(BSc) in Civil Engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia, and a MSc in Numerical methods in Engineering from CIMNE in Barcelona, Spain.


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