Apple continues to dominate the global market for true wireless earbuds with its AirPods and AirPods Pro. But a proliferation of competitors in China and elsewhere with cheaper options claims increasing market share.
Challengers to Apple’s earbuds market dominance proliferate
Technology market analysts at Canalys issued a report Wednesday showing that true wireless (TWS) earbuds shipments from all manufacturers steadily increased in the first quarter of 2022, up to 68 million units.
Apple dominates with a 32% market share globally, up 14% compared to Q1 2021. Samsung (South Korea) and Xiaomi (China) maintained second and third place with 9% and 7% market share, respectively.
Utah-based Skullcandy and China-based Edifier ranked fourth and fifth, offering solid sound quality and lower prices. Skullcandy shot up 53% over last year and Edifier grew 24%.
Apple’s dominance slips in China
And Apple still leads the huge market for earbuds in China, but it appears to be slipping, according to the report.
It indicates the top five earbuds brands by shipments for the quarter in China were Apple, Xiaomi, Edifier, Huawei and QCY. But Apple’s share of the Chinese market for Q1 2022 fell by 11% year-over-year.
With that drop, Apple’s market share fell to 16%. Meanwhile, domestic brands rose. Xiaomi, Edifier and Huawei all recorded year-over-year market share growth of between 7% and 28%. Xiaomi is right behind Apple in China with a 15% share of the market.
Apparently on the fast track, Xiaomi and Edifier place third and fifth in terms of global market share.
Saturated production capacity and slowing market demand
Canalys data released in April showed annual shipments of TWS earbuds in 2021 reached 290 million units, up 14.5% year-over-year.
Apple still ranks first in the world with nearly 93 million shipments, but a report by Nikkei Asia in March cited nearly saturated production capacity and slowing market demand as reasons why Apple may reduce the output of its AirPods by about 10 million units this year.
According to Canalys, the TWS headset market should grow over the next five years with total shipments reaching 1.05 billion pairs in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.04%.