AirPods 2 launch was kind of a dud


Deals on first-generation AirPods cut into sales of the new version.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

The debut of Apple’s second-generation AirPods didn’t trigger a huge surge in first-day sales, according to new data from a market-research company.

Still, the whole Q1 hearables market grew 40 percent over the previous quarter.

AirPods 2 off to a slow start

“While sales of the first generation AirPods were higher than expected thanks to a variety of sales promotions for stock-outs in the channel in Q1 2019, sales of the new model were weaker than initially expected due to the market’s mixed response,” noted analysts from Counterpoint Research.

AirPods 2 offer just a few improvements over the original. Most notably, they have a longer battery life and support “Hey Siri.” It seems clear many people whom already had a pair of Apple’s wireless earbuds didn’t feel an immediate need to upgrade.

That said, these new hearables debuted at the very end of March. It’s possible Apple is seeing an increase in sales in the second quarter.

Global hearables sales are up

There were 17.5 million wireless earbuds sold during the first three months of this year, according to Counterpoint. That’s a 40% quarter-on-quarter improvement, with much of the growth in North America and Europe.

AirPods dominate the world market for in-ear wearables. But Samsung is having a bit of success with with its new Galaxy Buds, moving into a distant second for the first time.

Q1 2019 Hearables market
There’s AirPods and then there’s everyone else.
Chart: Counterpoint Research

“It remains uncertain if Apple’s market share could stay at the present level with the current product portfolio in the coming quarters,” said Liz Lee, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research. “Samsung is trying to strengthen its dominance with Galaxy Buds, propelled by bundling with Galaxy S10 series. The recent performance of QCY and Soundcore, who are also expanding their global presence, is noteworthy. Above all, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are expected to release true wireless earbuds in the second half of this year. The market is getting more dynamic and energetic.”


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