Apple remains king of wireless earbuds, despite strong pressure from competitors
The main competition comes from brands from China.
On December 13, 2016, Apple introduced the AirPods. By doing so, the company all but invented a new market that it has dominated since then. As a result, almost all other wireless earbuds on the market are compared with the AirPods. The AirPods didn’t just define this new market, but it also set the standards for the industry.
However, a strange phenomenon occurred recently. Despite AirPods sales growing, Apple has lost a bit of market share.
In 2019, Apple’s AirPods held almost half of the true wireless earbuds market. However, Apple’s market share seems to be slowly shrinking, and that is because of its competitors, which mainly come from China. As a result, AirPods account for just 35% of the market. Xiaomi managed to capture 10% of the market, whereas Samsung has a 6% share.
Apple is pressured not just from Xiaomi and Samsung, but from a variety of other Chinese brands that have introduced lower-priced wireless earbuds. The biggest pressure comes from the low to mid-end market segment. That’s where Apple losses most ground.
To make a better sense of all this, here are the main reasons why Apple is losing chunks of its market share:
- Xiaomi’s exponential growth is mainly due to their AirDots ($30) and Mi Airbuds2 ($60) that seem to resonate with users that don’t want to spend beyond $100.
- The Lypertek Tevi ($90) featuring excellent sound quality in line with what we have seen with the AirPods.
- 1More True Wireless ANC ($180) earbuds are also quite popular and offer the same (if not better) performance than the AirPod Pros that cost $250.
- Samsung’s Galaxy Buds ($170) come with noise-canceling, great sound, and excellent design. According to Samsung, they’ve shipped over 300K pairs just within the first few weeks after their introduction to the market.
At the same time, Apple is acutely aware of that and has plans in place to battle its competitors. Their third-generation AirPods were supposed to be introduced in 2020, but have been postponed until 2021.
According to several sources, the third-generation AirPods will feature a so-called “integrated system-in-package,” which is similar to the SiP that is already in use with the AirPods Pro. Plus, there are rumors of a new, affordable AirPods Pro version that won’t feature Active Noise Cancellation.
Apple did lose a good chunk of its market share, but sales shows that Apple shouldn’t be overly concerned. Last year, Apple sold 61 million AirPods. This year the company is on track to sell 82 million units. None of their main competitors come even near to those numbers.
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