Apple AirPods set to dominate wireless earbuds market for another year

The true wireless earphones market has been reporting strong annual growth for a long time and 2021 won’t be any different. Counterpoint Research expects global shipments to reach 310 million units, up from 233 million in 2020.

Apple’s AirPods will dominate, but their share could fall

Apple dominated the so-called hearables market throughout last year with AirPods and AirPods Pro. These products, some of the best wireless earbuds, accounted for a combined 31% share of global shipments, which equates to around 72 million units.The Cupertino-based giant is expected to retain its position as the market leader in 2021 with shipments of around 83 million units. But Apple’s growth will be lower than the market average, so its market share could shrink to 27%.

Apple’s weaker performance in current market projections ultimately comes down to a lack of new products. The current-gen AirPods are over two years old, and AirPods Pro hit the market 18 months ago.

New generations of AirPods and AirPods Pro are expected to launch in Q3 2021, and Counterpoint Research expects that to drive growth in the premium segment in the second half of the year.

In the premium segment of the true wireless earbuds market, Samsung will follow in second place this year with a respectable 7% share of shipments, meaning it should be able to maintain its 2020 market share.

JBL is set to take 4% of the market. That might not seem like much, but we’re talking about an extremely fragmented market, so reaching the top 5 is no mean feat.

The real growth in 2021 will come from budget earphone brands

The real growth in 2021 for this group of products will come from the low and mid-price points, where Xiaomi is expected to lead the way with 9% of the global market. That also matches its 2020 market share and puts it in second place overall.

It should be followed by budget brand QCY, the fifth brand overall with 3% of the market. As the competition heats up, brands are expected to become even more aggressive with pricing.

The overall market will also become even more fragmented in 2021, predicts Counterpoint Research. Over time, though, it’s very likely that demand will consolidate around a select number of brands, similar to what has happened in the table and smartphone markets.



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