The worldwide smart personal audio device market, comprising true wireless stereo (TWS), wireless earphones and wireless headphones, grew 53 per cent in the Q3 2019, says research firm Canalys. The segment reached 96.7 million units in the said quarter and is expected to break the 100 million unit mark in the final quarter. Canalys believes that the segment has the potential to exceed 350 million units for the full year.
"The rising importance of streaming content, and the rapid uptake in a new form of social media including short videos, resulted in profound changes in mobile users' audio consumption and these changes will accelerate in the next five years while technology advancements like machine learning and smart assistants will bring more radical innovations in areas such as audio content discovery and ambient computing," says Nicole Peng, VP of Mobility at Canalys.
Of the three categories within the smart personal audio device market, true wireless stereo devices including the Apple AirPods and likes emerged as the largest category with 43 million earphones shipped. Interestingly, it overtook wireless earphones and wireless headphones with a 183 per cent annual growth in Q3 2019.
"The potential for TWS devices is far from being fully uncovered, and vendors must look beyond TWS as just a way to drive revenue growth. Coupled with information collected from sensors or provided by smart assistants via smartphones, TWS devices will become smarter and serve broader use cases beyond audio entertainments, such as payment, and health and fitness," says Canalys Senior Analyst Jason Low.
Of this, Apple alone commands 43 per cent of the true wireless stereo market share with 18.2 million units shipped in Q3 2019. This was followed by Xiaomi and Samsung with 7 per cent and 6 per cent market share, respectively.
"Apple is in a clear leadership position and not only on the chipset technology front. The seamless integration with iPhone, unique sizing and noise-cancelling features providing top of the class user experience, is where other smartphone vendors such as Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi are aiming their TWS devices. In the short-term, smart personal audio devices are seen as the best up-selling opportunities for smartphone vendors, compared with wearables and smart home devices," adds Peng.
The wireless headphone segment has shipped 22 million units with JBL, Sony and Bose being the top three players with 13 per cent, 10 per cent and 8 per cent market share, respectively. On the other hand, the wireless earphone market shipped 32 million units with JBL, Sony and Skullcandy enjoying 8 per cent, 6 per cent and 6 per cent share respectively.
With smartphone vendors expanding into wireless audio space, the gap between audio players and smartphone vendors has narrowed. "Smartphone vendors are developing proprietary technologies to not only catch up in audio quality but also provide better integration for on-the-move user experiences, connectivity and battery life," adds Low.