Skip to the content

True Wireless Headphones Demand Up 182% in Q4 2018

Headphones Market Research, Analysis and Commentary

06 Mar 2019 - 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.


Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments. 

Authorised use of information All information provided by Futuresource in any form is proprietary information that belongs to Futuresource and is protected by UK and international copyright law. Except as outlined below, direct or indirect reproduction of information, in whole or in part and by any means, is prohibited without the express written consent of Futuresource. 

Members of the press may use a press release in its entirety or take segments from it as necessary; they may also use a graph, a slide, or a section of a supplied research report less than fifty words long, provided all text is identified as "Source: Futuresource Consulting" and all graphics are credited with "Futuresource Consulting, copyright 2019".

Futuresource Reports Enquiries:

Leon Morris

Futuresource Media Contact for Industry comment, Forecasting and Trends:

Nicola Finn

To view all our latest reports, please visit our Reports Portal here >>