Apple expected to lead the true wireless hearables market, selling more than 100m units in 2020.
Competition for second place will remain fierce, especially in the premium market.
Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego
February 11th 2020
The global market size for true wireless hearables (or TWS) beat expectations, growing more than 50% in 4Q19, this is now more than 50m units a quarter, according to Counterpoint Research’s latest Hearables Market Tracker. The US market was the main driver for the quarter, growing more than 75% QoQ and accounting for more than 30% of the global market on the back of seasonal promotions and Apple’s new model launch.
The launch of Apple’s new AirPods Pro model in late October helped the company record steady 44% growth in 4Q19, despite supply shortages. Apple’s market share fell slightly but still had more than 40% share (see Exhibit 1). It attempted to keep up with swift overall market growth; market share for the full year reached close to 50%.
Xiaomi kept its second-place spot in the quarter supported by strong sales of its Redmi Airdots, followed by Samsung, QCY and JLab. The race for second place intensified, with Xiaomi and Samsung competing neck to neck.
Exhibit 1: True Wireless Hearables Market Share by Brand – 4Q19
The US$100-and-above segment saw Apple, Samsung and Jabra accounting for more than 80% of 4Q19 sales (see Exhibit 2), as demand surged in developed countries to see overall quarterly growth of 66%. The sub-US$100 band, driven mainly by US and Chinese brands, was more fragmented, with the top three accounting for only a third of the overall pie.
Exhibit 2: True Wireless Hearables Brand Share by Price Band – 4Q19
The expected launch today of Samsung’s new and improved Galaxy Buds Plus at the UNPACKED 2020 event should bring longer battery life, faster charging, and improved sound quality to the vendor’s next earbud iteration, although noise cancellation will likely be unavailable.
“We expect Apple to sell more than 100m true wireless hearables in 2020, including AirPods Pros, to maintain their comfortable lead in the market,” said Liz Lee, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research. “The real competition will be for second place, especially in the premium market; Samsung, which had success with Galaxy Buds last year, will need further upgrades to those expected in the Galaxy Buds Plus, including noise cancellation and other advanced features and designs, in order to beat its rivals.”
“Global True Wireless Earbuds (Hearables) Market Tracker by Brand & Regions: Q4 2019” is available for purchase at report.counterpointresearch.com