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Apple Expected to Sell More Than 100 Million True Wireless Hearables in 2020
In a report published today, Counterpoint said the global market size for true wireless hearables had beat expectations, growing 53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to the same quarter the year previous.
In total, 51 million units were sold in the quarter, while 130 million were sold for the full year. The U.S. was the main driver for the quarter, growing 76 percent year on year and accounting for 35 percent of the global market. Seasonal promotions and Apple's launch of AirPods Pro at the end of October.
The launch of Apple's new AirPods Pro model in late October helped the company record steady 44% growth in 4Q19, with 6m units sold despite supply shortages. Apple's market share fell slightly to 41% QoQ as it attempted to keep up with swift overall market growth; market share for the full year reached 47%.
Looking at the year ahead for the true wireless hearables market, Counterpoint senior analyst Liz Lee said:
"We expect Apple to sell more than 100m true wireless hearables in 2020, including AirPods Pros, to maintain their comfortable lead in the market. The real competition will be for second place, especially in the premium market; 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."The upbeat figures come despite concerns that AirPods and AirPods Pro manufacturing could be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, leading to greater supply shortages.
In a January investor note, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects Chinese company Goertek to begin assembly of AirPods Pro in the first half of the year. The addition of a second supplier alongside Luxshare Precision should help improve supply of the popular earphones, which continue to face multi-week shipping estimates on Apple.com.
Apple is rumored to be considering bundling AirPods with future iPhone models coming in 2020. Given the high price of AirPods, though, and their popularity as a standalone product, it seems unlikely that will happen.
Rumors suggest Apple plans to round out its audio wearable lineup with a set of high-end over-ear headphones, which, according to Kuo, are under development at Apple's Cupertino headquarters. Kuo did not provide any details about these headphones beyond claiming that they will support Bluetooth. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously reported that Apple-branded over-ear headphones were under development, but it is unclear if they were canceled, became the Beats Solo Pro, or otherwise.