Apple's massively popular AirPods dominated the competition again in 2019 — and it doesn't look like that's changing anytime soon
- Apple's AirPods held a strong lead over rivals in the fourth quarter of 2019 and over the course of the whole year, according to new data from Counterpoint Research.
- Apple's AirPods claimed 47% of the global market for truly wireless earbuds in 2019, according to the report.
- Xiaomi and Samsung were runner-ups, but with roughly 6% of the market each they're still distantly behind Apple.
- It's the latest sign that Apple's AirPods have been a hit, proving the headphones can stand out in the market even as the industry becomes increasingly crowded with new arrivals from Samsung and others.
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Apple holds a strong lead over rivals like Samsung and Chinese tech giant Xiaomi in the global market for wireless earbuds, according to a new report from Counterpoint Research, once again reiterating the iPhone maker's position at the top of the market.
Apple claimed 41% of the global market for truly wireless earbuds in the fourth quarter of 2019, while Xiaomi placed in second and Samsung landed in a close third.
The Cupertino, California-based tech maker did see its market share dip slightly, however, compared to Q3 2019 when it claimed 45% of the market. Apple's slice of the market also dropped considerably compared to the same quarter one year ago, when it accounted for 60% of the global truly wireless earbud market.
Still, even with this decline, Apple is far ahead of the competition, as Counterpoint says Xiaomi and Samsung both held around 6% of the wireless earbud market share for the entire year. Apple, by comparison, claimed 47% of the market in 2019.
Liz Lee, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, expects that Apple will remain the market leader in 2020, but that the competition for second place could intensify.
As AirPods have grown in popularity, a variety of new competitors have emerged in the market, including Amazon and Samsung among others. Google and Microsoft also announced new wireless earbuds last year, although neither company has launched them yet.
The show floor at this year's CES conference was also filled with wireless earbuds from companies like Audio Technica, Mobvoi, and JBL among many others, and Samsung is also rumoured to be launching a new pair of Galaxy Buds.
Lee also expects that Apple will sell 100 million wireless earbuds in 2020, lining up with expectations from Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives, who has said Apple could sell between 85 million and 90 million AirPods this year.
"The real competition will be for second place, especially in the premium market," Lee wrote in a release announcing the new data. "Samsung, which sold 8m Galaxy Buds last year, will need further upgrades to those expected in the Galaxy Buds Plus, including noise cancellation and other advanced features and designs, in order to beat its rivals."
Apple's AirPods have become an increasingly important product for the company, particularly over the last year as growth in its wearables business helped offset slowing iPhone sales. Apple's wearables, home, and accessories division, the unit that includes AirPods, is now a $10 billion business for the company, as it revealed in its fiscal first-quarter earnings report in late January.
The Counterpoint Research report is the latest sign that Apple's AirPods have been a hit for the company. Wedbush's Ives also predicted in early December that Apple had sold 3 million AirPods units over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend alone, and a report from Nikkei Asian Review in November suggested the company was already planning to double production of its $250 AirPods Pro to keep up with demand.
"When was the last time Apple had a product like that?" Tom Forte, a senior research analyst at D.A. Davidson, previously said to Business Insider ahead of Apple's earnings. "It had been a while."
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