It is not a hidden secret anymore that Apple's AirPods line-up has been a huge success. According to the latest numbers, Apple sold 60 million AirPods in 2019, giving them a healthy 71% wireless headphones market revenue. AirPods Pro launched in late October so a large number of the units sold would be a mix of first-generation and second-generation AirPods.
A new report by Strategy Analytics shows that Apple is leading the "true wireless headphones" market that it created with the launch of AirPods, back in 2016. Although AirPods were initially ridiculed for their design, along with Apple's removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack in iPhones, every competitor in the market is now trying to replicate their design and success. They were even ranked amongst the top 10 gadgets of the decade. For smartphone manufacturers, this product category means that they can get additional revenue with each smartphone sale, as the wireless headphones are marketed as companion products.
Companies like Bose, Sennheiser, and Audio Technica, who typically make higher-end audio products, are also trying to compete in the true wireless headphones product segment. Even companies like Microsoft and Google have jumped into the competition with Surface Earbuds and Pixel Buds, respectively, despite not making true wireless headphones before. Then there are cheap knockoffs that try to replicate the same design and H1 chip that AirPods have.
The reason is simple - true wireless Bluetooth headphones are the hottest selling product category of the past few years, and it just keeps growing. The category sees Apple leading with 50% market share, and Samsung and Xiaomi lag behind with less than 10% each. Strategy Analytics estimates that the market will grow up to $100 billion by 2024. Apple also led the market with 71% revenue of the product category. Since Apple sold 60 million AirPods in 2019, it means that the rest of the competitors, combined, sold 60 million true wireless headphones.
It is unlikely that Apple will lose their lead anytime soon. We are into the third-generation of AirPods, and Apple has yet to make a wrong move. Apple has also been porting over their AirPods technology to Beats headphones. Slowly, but steadily, Apple has become the leading wearables tech company in the world, with Apple Watch and AirPods. This is good for Apple as it already has experience and success with wearables, which it should be able to utilize for their rumored upcoming augmented reality smart glasses.