Greater democratization of wireless technology and reduction in prices will help wireless hearables become mainstream in the next two-three years. The findings of our Consumer Lens survey reveals that Apple remains the top of the mind for most US consumers for a future purchase.
Apple’s AirPods, a true wireless hearable device, turns out to be the preferred choice for future purchase due to factors like ease of use, comfort & fit, and portability. Further, Apple also edged rivals because true wireless as a category is the preferred choice over wireless earphones, due to factors like better sound quality, portability, and ease of use.
Future Preference for True Wireless
Note: It is a multi-response question, and the percentage will not add up to 100%
Meanwhile, our survey also reveals that close to three out of five respondents already have a pair of wireless headphones/earphones in the US. Nearly half of the respondents bought/received their hearables more than a year ago, and almost 40% of the respondents are willing to buy a hearable in the next year. This clearly, wireless is the future. Premium smartphones today come without headphone jacks, which is only helping increase the adoption of wireless hearables among premium smartphone users. This indicates a definite shift in consumer preference from wired to wireless.
Our hearable market tracker also corroborates this shift. The true wireless hearables reached 27 million units in Q2 2019, growing 56% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) globally. At the end of 2019, the market is expected to reach 120 million units globally. Most of the growth is coming from markets like the US, Europe, and China.
Unlike the smartphone market in the US, which is driven by operator channels, hearable devices spread across multiple sales channels. Online channels dominate the hearable purchase market because of convenience, special promotions, bundle offers, and seasonal discounts.
As shipments increase for wireless hearables, use of artificial intelligence (AI) in voice tech is emerging as a new user interface with many new applications. Almost half of the respondents in our survey are aware of AI in hearables, and one in three respondents have used it in the past. According to the analysis, about 70% of respondents now consider it an important feature for future hearable purchases, and around 30% of the respondents who are aware of AI features will likely pay more to have this in their next hearable. This indicates a big opportunity for such a feature. Basic features for regular users are the most important. Features like control of music and volume through voice-commands, smart ambient noise cancellation, voice search, hand-free calling are the most common usage preference highlighted by the respondents.
Our latest research of the hearables market — Hearables Market Tracker Q2 2019 and Hearables Consumer Insights (USA) – is available for purchase. Please feel free to reach out to us at sales(at)counterpointresearch.com for further questions regarding our latest research, insights or press inquiries.