Apple's AirPods 2 will help the 'hearables' segment triple in size
The original Apple AirPods
According to Counterpoint Research, wireless 'hearables' are the next big thing. The segment, which contains Apple’s AirPods and the Samsung Galaxy Buds, saw global sales of around 46 million units last year. But with the help of AirPods 2, this could catapult to 129 million units as early as next year.
Samsung, Google, Bose, and LG are all expected to grow
As noted by Research Director Pete Richardson, “2019 will be the year that hearables evolve into an important market.” For the most part, new releases from major brands will boost sales across the globe. However, the evolving digital habits of consumers are also expected to propel demand.
The likes of Samsung, Bose, Huawei, and LG all hold relatively small market shares at the moment. But as interest in the segment picks up throughout this year and next, each one is set to experience relatively strong growth which should translate into larger market shares.
New Google Pixel Buds and other releases from the likes of Amazon are expected to play an important role too. After all, these should integrate the likes of Google Assistant and Alexa, both of which are becoming increasingly popular among consumers.
AirPods 2 will propel the 'hearables' segment to new levels
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, for the foreseeable future Apple is expected to remain the biggest driving force of growth. Rumor has it that the brand is preparing a second-generation of its AirPods which should integrate a variety of new features and potentially some small design changes.
From afar, AirPods 2 are expected to look identical to the originals. But upon closer inspection, a new frosted glass-like coating should be visible. This, according to rumors, will improve grip and reduce the slipperiness, which means the new AirPods shouldn’t fall out of your ears so easily.
AirPods 2 should also introduce always-on Siri, which will allow users to activate the assistant with the words “Hey, Siri.” This feature was actually first teased way back in September by Apple but still hasn’t been confirmed officially.
Joining the improved Siri will apparently be some kind of water resistance and potentially some health-related features. More specifically, an earlier report suggested Apple was researching the possibility of a built-in heart rate monitor. However, this extra is far from guaranteed.
One feature that does seem extremely likely at this point is support for wireless charging through a new charging case. Allegedly, this feature, which will charge both the case and AirPods simultaneously, will take the battery level from 0% to 100% in just 15 minutes.
Also expected from the new wireless accessory is Apple’s W2 Bluetooth connectivity chip. This can currently be found inside the Apple Watch Series 4 and halves the power consumption with respect to the W1 chip. As a result, battery life improvements are to be expected.
Of course, Apple’s AirPods are primarily meant for music and Apple is set to bring some improvements to the overall sound quality.
Most AirPods buyers aren't bothered about sound quality
Rather ironically, despite the fact AirPods are meant for music, consumers aren’t buying them because of their sound quality.
Counterpoint Research recently conducted an online survey of over 200 people regarding their preferences. In the case of AirPods, 68% of correspondents cited “comfort & fit” as a key reason for buying them. This was followed by “ease of use” and “portability,” which were mentioned by 56% and 44% of people respectively.
As it turns out, just 41% of the people surveyed cited “sound quality” as a reason for buying AirPods. For comparison, this factor was the key driver when it came to Bose products, with a whopping 72% listing it. “Noise cancellation” was also important with Bose headphones as it was cited by 68% of people.