Low, Mid TWS Segment Sees Fast Expansion in Q3 2020

  • Global TWS market grew 24% QoQ in Q3 2020. China and Asia-Pacific showed highest growth.
  • Premium TWS brands’ market expansion slowed while low- and medium- priced brands
    strengthened presence in major markets.
  • Chinese smartphone OEMs are expected to continue to expand their share in TWS market.

Global TWS market grew 24% QoQ in Q3 2020 despite the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, according to the Counterpoint Global Hearables (TWS) Market Tracker for Q3 2020. Good show by the low- and mid-price segment aided this growth. Considering the strong seasonality in Q4 with Black Friday and Christmas promotions, the market in 2020 is expected to slightly exceed the initial annual estimate of 220 million units.

Continued content growth and rising mobile video consumption have helped drive TWS demand. Above all, the recent trends of phone makers scrapping the earphone jack in phones and removing earphones from the box are having a large impact on market growth.

In terms of regions, China and AP ex CN (Asia-Pacific excluding China) showed high growth in Q3 2020. NAM (North America) maintained its first place with a 31% share. However, owing to rapid growth in other regions, its share dropped by 5%p compared to Q2 2020.

Exhibit 1: Global TWS Market, Q3 2020

Counterpoint Research Global TWS Market Q3 2020
Source: Global Hearables (TWS) Market Tracker

The sub-$100 price band captured more than half of the total market for the first time, accounting for 56% share in Q3 2020. Awareness of the low- and mid-end models increased due to weak consumer confidence along with the expansion of online channels. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to positively impact demand for budget devices, especially in NAM and China.

Exhibit 2: Market Share by Price Band, Q3 2020

Counterpoint Research Market Share by Price Band Q3 2020
Source: Global Hearables (TWS) Market Tracker

In terms of brands, Apple remained the leader in Q3 2020, but its market share fell by 6%p QoQ to 29%. Shares of other premium TWS brands such as Samsung and Jabra also fell. However, the biggest entry-level brand, Xiaomi, still grew and its four models, including the Redmi AirDots and AirDots S, figured in the global top 10 list of bestsellers in Q3 2020. QCY and JLab also expanded their market presence with strengthened model line-ups and competitive pricing strategies.

Exhibit 3: Global Top 10 Bestsellers, Q3 2020

Counterpoint Research Global Top 10 Bestsellers Q3 2020
Source: Global Hearables (TWS) Market Tracker

Amid the high growth witnessed in the global TWS market in Q3 2020, the low- and mid-priced product lines stood out. Apart from the pandemic-triggered reasons, the decreasing gap between these and premium segments in terms of technologies used, like noise cancellation and connectivity, also played its role.

This trend is expected to continue. Chinese smartphone OEMs such as Xiaomi and realme will continue to grow by focusing on low- and mid-priced TWS products and benefitting from brand recognition and solid distribution networks.

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