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AirPods the ‘most preferred’ brand for true wireless headphones – but not for sound quality

A large-scale consumer study found that AirPods were the most preferred brand in the US true wireless headphone market – but are not being chosen on the basis of sound quality.

The study also shows that Sony and Samsung are not lagging far behind Apple in consumer preferences …

Counterpoint Research carried out the survey.

Apple is a distinct leader with AirPods in the category of true wireless earbuds. Ease of use, comfort & fit, and portability were highlighted as the key reasons for choosing Apple AirPods over other wireless headsets.

Apple led the rankings, but not by the margin you might expect:

  • Apple: 19%
  • Sony: 17%
  • Samsung: 16%
  • Bose: 10%
  • Beats: 6%
  • Sennheiser: 5%
  • LG: 4%
  • Jabra: 2%

However, when it comes to the reasons for choosing AirPods, sound quality was the least-important criterion, with only 41% of consumers describing that as a key reason for purchase. Of the brands listed, Bose was the most preferred brand for audio quality, with that cited as the main reason by 72% of those who favored the company.

Counterpoint says that AirPods represented close to 75% of true wireless headphone sales in 2018, at around 35M units. The long-awaited second-generation model are expected to further drive the market this year, with total sales of 129M units expected by 2020.

The firm says that the inclusion of voice assistants are key to the appeal of true wireless headphones.

Above all, personal voice assistants such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa are likely to boost the market from 2019. Future generations of hearable devices will be able to accommodate virtual personal assistants and used for a multitude of tasks such as queries and hands-free directions. Ultimately, advanced hearables can reduce smartphone use, as they may take over many tasks that users solve with the help of their smartphones today.

[Among the] many exciting capabilities to be integrated into future hearable devices [are] smart hearing aids, real-time language translation, tracking your vitals and more.

Headphones of all types are used for more than 40 minutes of music listening per day by two-thirds of those surveyed. A quarter of respondents use them to listen to more than an hour a day of video content.

We recently compared Samsung’s Galaxy Buds to AirPods, and while the Korean company’s headphones do offer a great fit and wireless charging, they are unlikely to tempt many iPhone owners.

My own preference in true wireless headphones remains Master & Dynamic’s MW07, though RHA’s CL2 Planar offer stunning sound quality if you can cope with a Bluetooth headband and a $900 price-tag …

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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