“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.”
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, fueled 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.
“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 Harman's 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 installment covers the period from Q4 2016 to Q4 2018.