Apple’s AirPods earbuds sales continue to rise, even as it loses market share in the space to more affordable alternatives.
A Counterpoint Research report (via Bloomberg) says Apple accounted for nearly half of true wireless earbuds in 2019, and is expected to sell 82 million units this year. However, its lead has shrank, thanks to the growth of a band of cheap Chinese alternatives, shrinking its share to just over a third of the market (35%). Xiaomi sits in second place with 10%, and Samsung sits in third with a 6% share.
The report says Chinese brands, such as the $90 Lypertek Tevi offer performance comparable to the AirPods at a lower price. Meanwhile, other companies, including Samsung offer earbuds with performance comparable to AirPods Pro for a lower price.
“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 expected to more than double its wireless earbuds sales this year, growing from 8 million to 17 million. Apple’s AirPods lineup is forecast to go from 61 million to 82 million.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple is working on a third-generation of its AirPods, which won’t debut this year, but instead will see mass production begin in the first half of 2021.
The third-generation AirPods are expected to boast a more compact integrated system-in-package (SiP) similar to the SiP currently used in the AirPods Pro. Current AirPods use surface-mount technology (SMT).