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Premium headphones driving revenue boom, says Futuresource

By Ben Moore, Mon 9 Sep 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Premium headphones continue to capture the imagination of consumers, with global revenues in Q2 2019 growing nearly four times faster than shipments, at 44% year-on-year, according to the latest quarterly tracker report from Futuresource Consulting.

“True wireless now accounts for almost one in every five shipments and has established itself as the driving force behind the unshakeable growth in headphones,” says Futuresource Consulting senior market analyst Adriana Blanco. 

“Apple remains ahead in true wireless, though its lead is being eroded by an ever-growing raft of rivals, all vying for market share. Xiaomi and Huawei are making a significant impact in China and beyond, while Samsung continues to put in a strong global performance.”

Beyond true wireless, all other form factors continue to experience a year-on-year slump in shipments. 

The in-ear excluding true wireless segment has taken the biggest hit with most damage sustained in the mid-price bracket, though some geographies have been less badly affected. 

After five consecutive quarters of price growth, the over-ear segment returned a flat result in Q2. 

This was primarily due to special offers on some premium models, which may be nearing their next refresh cycle.

Conversely, the wireless headphones segment, which includes true wireless, grew 40% year-on-year, accounting for 60% of total shipments and 87% of total revenue.

“Voice Assistants (VAs) are making their presence felt in the headphones market,” says Blanco. 

“With VA headphone shipments tripling year-on-year, the technology was embedded in nearly a fifth of all headphones shipped in Q2 this year. What’s more, wake-word activation finally made an appearance in the category, thanks to AirPods 2.

“Sport headphones accounted for 15% of the total market, receiving a boost for voice in sports with the launch of Beats PowerBeats Pro with wake-word, hot on the heels of Airpods 2. Although VA sports headphones have, so far, captured less than 5% of the sports headphones segment, we’ll see it make some headway as the year progresses.”

In terms of country performance, the USA retained the top spot for headphone shipments, while China overtook Japan to take second position.

“Looking to the brands, the top three remain unchanged from Q1,” adds Blanco. 

“Sony holds onto pole position, but Apple continues to gain ground and is now within striking distance of the leader. In third place, JBL continues to go from strength to strength, achieving the largest increase in volume share of any brand in Q2, at two percentage points, helped once again by its strong portfolio in the sub-$100 market.”

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