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Apple AirPods Dominated TWS Earbuds Segment in 2020, Expected to Face Strong Competition in 2021: Report

AirPods were originally released in 2016 with a second generation in 2019.

Apple AirPods Dominated TWS Earbuds Segment in 2020, Expected to Face Strong Competition in 2021: Report

Photo Credit: Strategy Analytics

AirPods Pro were launched in 2019

  • AirPods sales account for nearly half of total TWS sales in 2020
  • Xiaomi came in second but with significantly lower sales
  • 2021 is expected to bring strong competition for Apple

Apple AirPods had a commanding lead in the true wireless stereo (TWS) earphones segment in 2020, a new report shows. Overall TWS sales saw a significant growth of nearly 90 percent last year, and a majority of these TWS earbuds sold were from Apple. While the report does not specify the models, these numbers presumably include both the Apple AirPods and the Apple AirPods Pro sales. Apple has so far launched two generations of AirPods and one generation of AirPods Pro. Xiaomi followed Apple to come in second, but with significantly lower sales.

The report by Strategy Analytics says that TWS market grew by nearly 90 percent in 2020 and that the global Bluetooth headset sales were over 300 million units in the last year. The TWS market was dominated by Apple's AirPods accounting for almost 50 percent of the total TWS sales. These presumably include the Apple AirPods, both first and second generation, as well as Apple AirPods Pro that were launched in 2019.

The graph shows that Xiaomi was second in line but with a significantly lower sales share in 2020. Samsung, Huawei, Realme, JBL, and Oppo followed next in descending order of sales.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, pointed out that Apple could see its commanding lead shrink because of the competition from Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei in 2021. Brands such as Bose, Beats, Jabra, OnePlus, and others accounted for very small volumes, according to the report.

“Apple maintained a commanding lead in the TWS segment in 2020, but its commanding share is shrinking as competition intensifies. Strong competition is expected from Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei in 2021. The TWS headset market is already hugely overcrowded and despite a strong sales outlook, there will inevitably be consolidation in the years ahead,” Hyers said.

Hyers also said that the demand for Bluetooth headsets slowed down briefly during the first half of the year due to the pandemic, but the second half of the year saw a strong rebound. “The Work From Home shift benefitted the entire Bluetooth headset category in terms of sales volume growth,” he added.

What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Vineet Washington writes about gaming, smartphones, audio devices, and new technologies for Gadgets 360, out of Delhi. Vineet is a Senior Sub-editor for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about gaming on all platforms and new developments in the world of smartphones. In his free time, Vineet likes to play video games, make clay models, play the guitar, watch sketch-comedy, and anime. Vineet is available on vineetw@ndtv.com, so please send in your leads and tips. More
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