The findings of a consumer research study by Counterpoint Research were released today. The main objective – determine “the penetration of wireless hearables among global smartphone users.”
In studying current and potential hearables (wireless earbuds, headphones, and headsets) buyers, Counterpoint found that 19% ranked Apple’s AirPods as their number one most preferred hearable brand, with Apple-owned Beats ranking 5th at 6%. Filling out the rest of the top 5 were Sony (17%), Samsung (16%), and Bose (10%).
In investigating the key drivers for choosing preferred brands, the study found that – unsurprisingly – sound quality wasn’t Apple’s strongest category. Instead, comfort and fit ranked highest, followed by ease of use, and portability for consumers when choosing AirPods. On the flip side, those that preferred Bose ranked sound quality as the key driver, followed closely by noise cancellation.
The report also offered a glimpse into current usage habits and future plans for the hearable market. According to their findings, almost 2/3 of respondents are listening to music for more than 40 minutes per day, with “at home” and “leisure/working out” being the two most common use cases.
According to the report, Apple sold an estimated 35 million pairs of the wireless earbuds in 2018, claiming nearly 75% of the wireless “hearables” segment. The study cites expected updates to the AirPods, as well as increased competition from Sony, Bose, and others, in projecting the market to top 129 million units this year.
Advancements in AI, and the addition of voice assistant features are also expected to play a key role in the growth of the category. Over half of respondents indicated they had intentions to buy AI-based wearables in the future.