The global market size for true wireless hearables grew 53 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2019. According to the Counterpoint Research's latest Hearable Market Tracker, the quarter accounted for 51 million units for the fourth quarter, of the 130 million units for the full year.
The hearable category was dominated by Apple with 6 million units sold despite supply shortages. The new AirPods Pro model launched in late October helped the Cupertino giant record steady 44 per cent growth in the said quarter.
However, Apple's market share fell slightly to 41 per cent quarter-on-quarter as it attempted to keep up with swift overall market growth; market share for the full year reached 47 per cent.
"We expect Apple to sell more than 100m true wireless hearables in 2020, including AirPods Pros, to maintain their comfortable lead in the market," said Liz Lee, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research.
Xiaomi continued to hold the second spot with the strong sales of its Redmi Airdots. This was closely followed by Samsung, QCY and JLab. The race for the second spot intensified, with both Xiaomi and Samsung holding around 6 per cent market share for the year. Samsung is expected to launch new and improved Galaxy Buds Plus at the Unpacked 2020 event, which is likely to feature longer battery life, faster charging, and improved sound quality to the vendor's next earbud iteration.
However, it might not support noise cancellation. "The real competition will be for the second place, especially in the premium market. Samsung, which sold 8 million 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," adds Lee.
The US was the main driver for the quarter, growing 76 per cent quarter-on-quarter and accounting for 35 per cent of the global market on the back of seasonal promotions and Apple's new model launch. The $100-and-above segment saw Apple, Samsung and Jabra accounting for more than 80 per cent of fourth-quarter 2019 sales, as demand surged in developed countries to see overall quarterly growth of 66 per cent. Beats, Huawei, Sony and others accounted for the rest of the share. On the other hand, the sub-$100 band was driven by Chinese and US brands. Xiaomi, QCY, JLAB, Skullcandy, EDIFIER, Tzumi, Amoi and ENACFIRE accounted for 60 per cent of the overall pie.
With the true wireless hearables market expecting to grow in the current year, Apple is likely to continue dominating the first spot with fierce competition for the second space.