The global market for truly wireless stereo (TWS) hearables experienced a less-than-impressive performance quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) growth in the second quarter of 2021, as typically strong spring sales waned across the US and Asia ex-China markets, resulting in overall unit sales and value rising by only 1% and 9%, respectively.
On a YoY basis, although the market enjoyed 27% growth compared with 2020’s COVID impacted the second quarter, the rankings saw few new developments, although significant change did arise in terms of market share.
“Apple lost considerable share in both sales volume and value despite big price drops on the AirPods, but the company is unlikely to be too worried,” says senior analyst Liz Lee, who oversees TWS hearables research at Counterpoint. “I think the 3rd generation AirPods expected next month could be a massive hit. It’s been so long since we’ve seen a new release, and if you factor in some attractive pricing, it’s very possible the AirPods 3 could push overall sales for Apple TWS hearables past 80 million for the year.”
Looking at how unit share is evolving Lee notes, ”Samsung grabbed a big portion of the premium segment, while Xiaomi was a standout across sub-$100. Indian player boAt, also made some great gains on the back of domestic market recovery to reach eighth globally, its best showing ever. Overall, the ecosystem is strong, and we’re seeing many niche and long tail players eking out respectable gains.”
“In terms of revenues, significant share gains are being made by really only a handful of familiar names – Samsung, JBL and to a lesser extent Xiaomi. This is partly because of out-performance in China, where there is a strong ecosystem of smaller budget brands,” observes Lee. “Despite this expansion, as well as declines in the US, the sub-$100 and premium markets continue inching towards parity in terms of volume. This trend is likely to be accelerated by Apple in the coming months, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the premium segment pushes past 50% in the second half.”