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AirPods market share falls, but Apple still well ahead of competitors

AirPods market share fell from 41% to 29% in the course of nine months, according to the latest Counterpoint data, but Apple remains well ahead of its nearest competitor, and most other big names remain in the 2-5% range.

The fall in market share reflects increased competition in the market for True Wireless Stereo (TWS) headphones…

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Counterpoint put Apple’s market share at 41% by unit sales – though it did note that the company took home 62% of the revenue. By the third quarter of 2020, that had fallen to 29%. That doesn’t reflect any fall in AirPods sales, but rather growing competition, especially at the lower end of the market. It expects overall annual growth to hit 83%.

There is big potential in budget, and we’re already seeing the impact in hearables. In 3Q 2020, half of the top 10 were budget brands with sub-$50 and even sub-$20 offerings; Xiaomi best illustrated the trend as it consolidated its number two spot.

The firm says that the growing trend toward removing headphone sockets from smartphones has of course played a large role in boosting overall demand.

‘The trend around removing jacks and earphones from devices and boxes is becoming a big driver for TWS segment growth,’ says Counterpoint Research senior analyst Liz Lee. ‘It also helps that mobile media consumption continues to grow, making TWS the next must-have accessory.’

Counterpoint reports that Apple’s 29% share is more than twice that of its nearest competitor, Xiaomi, while third-placed Samsung has just 5%.

Apple’s powerful iOS ecosystem, typically comprised of consumers with larger disposable incomes, has been the main driver for growth – especially in terms of revenues.

We’re expecting Apple to update the design of the standard AirPods model to match that of AirPods Pro, but with ANC remaining a differentiating factor. Antitrust pressure forced Apple to allow third-party companies to integrate with the Find My app, Belkin taking advantage of that fact for its SoundForm Freedom competitor to Apple’s AirPods.

Apple will not be remotely concerned about AirPods market share, as it is only interested in the mid-range to premium demographic.

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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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