Apple Losing Share of Wireless Earbuds Market Despite Growing AirPods Sales

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,972
11,250


Apple will grow its share of the true wireless earbuds market by a third this year, despite losing its dominant position in the space to more affordable alternatives, according to Counterpoint Research (via Bloomberg).


Apple accounted for nearly half of all sales of true wireless earbuds in 2019 and is expected to grow to 82 million units this year, according to the report. However, its lead has been eroded by the arrival of Chinese rival brands, shrinking its share to just over a third of the market (35%). Xiaomi remains in second place with 10%, while Samsung sits in third with a 6% share.

According to the report, specialized Chinese brands like the $90 Lypertek Tevi offer comparable performance to Apple's AirPods at a lower price, while the $180 1More True Wireless ANC rival the noise-canceling smarts of AirPods Pro, which cost $250. Samsung's new Galaxy Buds Live are also ANC-equipped and come in at under $170.
"The low-to-mid end segment including Chinese brands and U.S. makers such as JLab is taking away share from the premium market," said Counterpoint analyst Liz Lee. "Competition between Samsung and Apple is likely to intensify in the latter half of the year, as positive reviews of the Buds Live and increased investment from Samsung are expected to close the gap between the two," she added.
Samsung is projected to more than double its true wireless earbuds sales this year, growing from 8 million to 17 million, while Apple’s AirPods family is forecast to go from 61 million to 82 million.
Apple is rumored to be working on a third-generation version of the AirPods, although Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that third-generation AirPods won't be coming in 2020, with mass production to begin in the first half of 2021.

The third-generation AirPods are expected to adopt a more compact integrated system-in-package (SiP) that's similar to the SiP used in the AirPods Pro, which will allow the audio features of the AirPods to be integrated into a casing more similar in design to the AirPods Pro. Current AirPods use surface-mount technology (SMT).

There have also been multiple rumors suggesting Apple is working on a version of the AirPods Pro that have a cheaper price tag and no Active Noise Cancellation. Jon Prosser and another leaker, "l0vetodream," believe that these are "AirPods X," a version of the AirPods Pro designed for sports and running.

DigiTimes has referred to these entry-level earbuds as the "AirPods Pro Lite," and claims that Apple originally planned to launch these new AirPods in early 2020, but has postponed them until the second half of 2021.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo these "AirPods Pro Lite" or "AirPods X" earbuds that might be launching in September or October aren't AirPods at all, but are instead headphones in the Beats family.

Article Link: Apple Losing Share of Wireless Earbuds Market Despite Growing AirPods Sales
 

LeeW

macrumors 68000
Feb 5, 2017
1,666
2,842
Glasgow, Scotland
There is no doubt that there are plenty of options cheaper than Apple that offers the same or better performance. It is all a matter of choice at the end of the day although I notice many more switching away from Air Pods for alternatives.

Personally I am happy with my APP but then I just need something simple, compatible and good that just works which is why most are like me and just buy what Apple is offering and we know it costs for the privilege of it being from Apple.
 
  • Like
Reactions: martyjmclean

millerb7

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2010
858
17
I picked up the AirPods shortly after release. When they came out they didn't really have any decent competition. I still use them daily and they work great for me. Honestly though, when they do die, I will 100% be checking out the other options (with ANC) as opposed to the AirPod Pros. IMO they just simply aren't worth the $250.

Apple does some things incredible. IMO they make the best phones, the best tablets (this one isn't even really debatable), and the best watches.... they've never made anywhere near the best desktops - and their laptops up until 2015 were among the best.... but I've since switched off to running Linux on a Thinkpad and couldn't be happier. I think I may give the laptops another shake once ARM comes out though...

As far as headphones go though - they've always offered mid-road headphones for a hefty price, including the Beats lineup.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Agit21

Picard J.L.

Suspended
Mar 27, 2020
101
94
Not really surprising - when the AirPods launched there was really nothing like them on the market, whereas now there's quite a lot of (genuinely rather good competition).

I still love my AirPods and in truth I'd probably buy them again, but the landscape is definitely very different to how it was when they launched.
As far as i'm concerned and from what i see around there is no competition.
 

LarryJoe33

macrumors 68020
Jul 17, 2017
2,153
741
Boston
I gotta say, I have had my APP for 8 months. The right one has been replaced twice and the left once. They don't have longevity and the sound degrades with distortion and static. I listen to mine loud and it clearly reduces the life of the internal drivers.

I did get Apple Care+, but that makes these close to $300 with tax or $150 a year under warranty. I would not think twice about quality cheaper alternatives if these are throw-aways after warranty expires.
 
Last edited:

ani4ani

macrumors 65816
May 4, 2012
1,309
1,158
UK
To be honest, the whole world is being mugged by all of these expensive branded units. I had the Sony's which were brilliant [actually quite amazing], but I forgot them for a trip and so in desperation I purchased an unbranded cheap pair for overnight delivery on Prime. [about 10% of the cost]. They are 95% as good as the Sony's, range and battery life stunning. Sound quite amazing for the cost. None of these branded units can justify their cost.
 

Patriks7

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2008
1,351
388
Vienna
I have AirPods Pro and I dont get the hype. They’re ok. Nothing special. I can see why people are looking at other cheaper brands.
I have tried a few of these cheaper brands and personally cannot understand why other people would be looking at them. Not saying the AirPods are perfect, but the compromises in the cheaper variants make the AirPods worth it.
 

AngerDanger

macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
4,890
23,491
which will allow the audio features of the AirPods to be integrated into a casing more similar in design to the AirPods Pro.
Oh, please don’t; I really prefer the design of the original AirPods over the Pros.

The features of the Pros justify their incredibly bulbous design, but I love just being able to put AirPods in and forget I’m wearing them.

I can even lie sideways in bed and wear them without fatigue. I tried the same thing with AirPod Pros, and my ears were aching within 15 minutes.
 

russell_314

macrumors 68000
Feb 10, 2019
1,820
2,463
USA
Soon Apple will no longer be number 1. Most people are poor and can’t afford AirPods at Apple’s price points. If the alternative is good most people will choose them over Apple’s overpriced product.
Apple is rarely number one on anything and that’s OK. Let the competition make the cheap clones and Apple can make the quality product.
 

russell_314

macrumors 68000
Feb 10, 2019
1,820
2,463
USA
I have tried a few of these cheaper brands and personally cannot understand why other people would be looking at them. Not saying the AirPods are perfect, but the compromises in the cheaper variants make the AirPods worth it.
They’re cheaper and many people have never used real AirPods to compare. I have coworkers that have AirPods knock offs and they work for them. Of course they’re also using $150 phones so maybe they just don’t want to spend a ton on electronics. Not everyone wants the most expensive thing
 

Mydel

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2006
743
457
Sometimes here mostly there
I have to say there are many better options than AirPods but the advantage of easy pairing is huge. It improved over the years but still Apple with W chip (or whatever is the name now) has an edge here. Regular AirPods are IMHO really horrible. The Pro version is decent but 100USD overpriced. I have to say that removing headphone jack was the biggest antienviromental move ever. All these wireless earbuds are utter nonsense that you have to trash after 18 months due to the charge holding max couple hours.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Elgaard

yurc

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2016
555
559
inside your DSDT
Duh, Apple is not center of the world when it comes audio market.

Sure, Airpods and closes relatives such as Beats play nicely with Apple ecosystem. But looking for bigger picture in IEM games, many option available from wired, wireless and true wireless. Sony, Shure, SennHeiser, just a few name. Not mentioning rising of affordable Chinese cans which gain traction in not only in audiophile ears but start to caters casual user as well.
 

recoil80

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
3,066
2,700
Soon Apple will no longer be number 1. Most people are poor and can’t afford AirPods at Apple’s price points. If the alternative is good most people will choose them over Apple’s overpriced product.
Apple isn't number 1 on the smartphone market either, yet they make huge profits.
As you said, many people cannot afford AirPods, so the market is growing because of cheaper alternatives and Apple is getting a smaller piece of that pie, but still selling a tons of AirPods with their high margins. I'm sure they're losing some money due to competition on the high end, but they're more interested in being the n1 in margins, not the n1 in units sold.
 
  • Like
Reactions: russell_314

ani4ani

macrumors 65816
May 4, 2012
1,309
1,158
UK
I have to say there are many better options than AirPods but the advantage of easy pairing is huge. It improved over the years but still Apple with W chip (or whatever is the name now) has an edge here. Regular AirPods are IMHO really horrible. The Pro version is decent but 100USD overpriced. I have to say that removing headphone jack was the biggest antienviromental move ever. All these wireless earbuds are utter nonsense that you have to trash after 18 months due to the charge holding max couple hours.
I really think the whole connection thing is a myth; my cheap ($30) units I mention in my previous post connect instantly; in fact by the time I have lifted them to my ear, I just about hear the end of the word "connected" it is so quick. As I said before, the sound is so close to my £230 Sony's [I have sold these now] it cannot be sensible unless cost is no option or sound quality is the pinnacle of your needs.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.