AirPods sales could blow past 100 million units this year

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Demand could far exceed supply for AirPods this holidays
The launch of Apple’s new AirPods Pro in October helped the company record steady growth last year.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple’s AirPods will once again dominate the market for truly wireless headphones in 2020, according to a market research firm. And sales will hit 100 million units this year.

The only real question is which company will come in second in this market.

Counterpoint Research compiled the figures for truly wireless headphones: in-ear Bluetooth hearables that aren‘t cross-connected by wires. Apple essentially created this market, sells more products in it than anyone else, and is predicted to stay on top.

AirPods sales up in 2019 and 2020

“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.

This despite Apple’s struggles to source enough AirPods Pro to meet demand, with some customers waiting as much as month to receive a pair.

A robust 2020 comes on top of a strong 2019 holiday shopping season, with Apple experiencing 44% growth. AirPods sales totaled 20.9 million units in Q4, giving it a 41% share of all this type of device sold. These hearables took in 62% of the revenue, or $4.1 billion, according to Counterpoint.

AirPods generated about $6 billion in revenue for all of 2019, according to Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. “We believe AirPods are probably the most under-appreciated part of Apple’s business today,” said this analyst.

The race for second

Xiaomi kept its second-place spot in the Q4 market for truly wireless headphones, thanks to strong sales of its Redmi Airdots, according to Counterpoint Research. This Chinese company was followed by Samsung, QCY and JLab.

But the situation might be different a year from now. Counterpoint predicts Samsung’s improved Galaxy Buds Plus will be unveiled today, bringing longer battery life, faster charging, and improved sound quality. But not noise cancellation.

Source: Counterpoint Research