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One bright spot in the tech sales cycle: headphones

Paul Brislen, Editor. 03 June 2020, 8:41 am

With everyone working from home for extended periods of time the IT device market has been on something of a rollercoaster ride in recent months.

On the one hand Gartner says the mobile phone market has dropped by around 20% in the  first quarter of the year, mostly due to the COVID-19 outbreak causing users to reconsider more expensive consumer device purchases.

But new stats from IDC Research suggests the wearables market has picked up the slack with a 30% jump in sales across the board and a whopping 68.3% increase in sales of headphones, presumably to help block out the sounds of our friends and loved ones in the home environment.

"The hearables category was seemingly resilient to the market-suppressing forces caused by COVID-19," says Jitesh Ubrani, Research Manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "Consumers were clamouring for these sophisticated earpieces not only for the ability to playback audio but also to help them increase productivity, as many of them were forced to work from home and sought ways to reduce surrounding noise while staying connected to their smartphones and smart assistants."

Other wearables, notably watches and smart-bands like the Fitbit range, did not fair so well. Sales of smart watches fell by 7% globally although smart-bands did somewhat better, growing by just over 16% for the quarter.

Gartner's data on smartphones also paints a picture of declining sales with Samsung and Huawei both reporting double digit falls (22.7% and 27.3% respectively) and even Apple falling by just over 8%.

However, as countries move out of total lockdown (whether they're ready or not) attention now turns once again to China and whether or not the country has rebuilt its supply pipeline enough to restart the sales engine.

That will be the story for Q2 this year.


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