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AirPods dominate wireless headphone market as global growth hits 90% for 2020

New data is out today from Strategy Analytics on the wireless headphone market and its estimates reveal a strong 2020 for their sales on the whole as AirPods continues to dominate the category. Apple’s wireless headphones took an almost 50% share as the overall market saw an impressive 90% increase.

The new report from Strategy Analytics says that the global total of Bluetooth headset shipments pushed past 300 million for 2020.

One of the most popular segments is “True Wireless Stereo” (TWS) Bluetooth headsets which Apple’s AirPods lineup continues to take the lion’s share of.

Strategy Analytics says that true wireless stereo headphones saw a big 90% increase in shipments for 2020 with AirPods taking just under 50% of the global market share.

No surprise here, the report cites the pandemic as driving the wireless headphone growth in 2020 with the most shipments happening in the 2H 2020.

“TWS headsets drove global sales volumes in the Bluetooth headset segment,” comments Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics. “While the pandemic slowed demand briefly during the first half of the year, sales rebounded strongly during the second half. The Work From Home shift benefitted the entire Bluetooth headset category in terms of sales volume growth.”

While AirPods still dominate the market, the report highlights that its share is decreasing as more competitors enter the market, many of which are priced below AirPods.

“Apple maintained a commanding lead in the TWS segment in 2020, but its commanding share is shrinking as competition intensifies. Strong competition is expected from Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei in 2021. The TWS headset market is already hugely overcrowded and despite a strong sales outlook, there will inevitably be consolidation in the years ahead,” says Ken Hyers.

But notably, Apple just expanded its AirPods lineup even further with the launch of AirPods Max. While they are its highest-end offering, it’s another way Apple can capture more market share.

As for future outlook on Bluetooth headphones, Strategy Analytics believes there is a lot of room for growth. It estimates only 1 in 10 people around the world have a Bluetooth headset.

“There is still plenty of potential in the broader Bluetooth headset market,” comments Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics. “Our research shows that installed base and penetration of Bluetooth headsets is still low; less than one in ten people own a Bluetooth headset globally, so there is still significant room for growth. As leading vendors are no longer bundling wired headsets with new smartphones, we see huge potential for Bluetooth headsets.”

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.