Apple sells 60 million AirPods in 2019

The Cupertino-based company was followed by Xiaomi, which sold only 9.1 million units

Apple Inc. AirPods are displayed for sale at a Walmart Inc. store in Burbank, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. A PWC survey shows that 36% of consumers surveyed plan to shop on Black Friday. Deals will ultimately dictate where spending and visits go. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Apple shipped nearly 60 million AirPods last year, securing more than 50 per cent of the totally wireless (TWS) headset market worldwide, according to a new report by market researcher Strategy Analytics.

TWS headsets are bluetooth stereo headsets that do not have a wire connecting the two earpieces.

“Apple’s AirPods are the dominant bluetooth headset in terms of sales volumes and revenues in the TWS segment,” the report said. “Even as other vendors enter the market, Apple will remain the dominant player in the category through the middle of the next decade.”

The TWS headset category was created by the Cupertino-based company, which introduced the first AirPods in 2016. Apple shipped almost 25 million more AirPods last year than in 2018.

Apple is followed by China-based Xiaomi and South Korea’s Samsung, which had an 8.5 per cent and a 6.9 per cent market share, respectively, according to Boston-headquartered researcher’s data.

Xiaomi sold 9.1 million units, whereas Samsung shipped only 7.4 million pairs of its Galaxy Buds in the last 12 months.

Last year, Apple introduced the AirPod Pro, a premium version of the wireless earbuds with noise cancellation and other features. They were well accepted by users globally.

“It is unlikely that any single vendor will replace Apple at the top in terms of volume or revenue in TWS bluetooth headphones in the foreseeable future,” said the report.

Strategy Analytics found that global revenues of TWS market grew by almost 200 per cent yearly in 2019, with Apple pocketing 71 per cent of the revenue. However, it did not reveal the exact value but predicted that “wholesale revenues will grow past $100 billion (Dh367bn) by 2024”.

The report also noted that the TWS Bluetooth headphones market is extremely competitive, which has in turn pressured prices.

“In the last six months, chipset prices have halved, opening the door for tens, if not hundreds, of new vendors offering inexpensive TWS bluetooth headphones,” Strategy Analytics said.

For Apple, wearables are one of the fastest growing categories of business.

For the first time in the last quarter of 2019 (ended September 28), wearables business overtook iPad sales and became the fourth-largest contributor to the overall revenues after iPhones, services and Mac businesses. It contributed $6.52bn, more than 10 per cent of the overall revenues.