Second generation Apple AirPods had weaker than expected sales in Q1

Second generation Apple AirPods had weaker than expected sales in Q1
Apple's AirPods continue to dominate the true wireless "hearables" category with a larger than 50% market share. However, the second generation of the extremely popular accessory did not add to Apple's already huge share of this market. According to the information made public by Counterpoint Research (via 9to5Mac), despite launching the latest version of its AirPods during the quarter, "Apple's market share remained at the same level seen in the last quarter, failing to grow in spite of the launch of its second generation AirPods." Of course, the new AirPods weren't announced by the tech giant until March 20th, nearly at the end of the three-month period.

The second generation AirPods replaced the W1 chip employed on the original version with an H1 chip for improved Bluetooth connectivity. It also lowered the strain on the battery, allowing Apple to promise 50% longer "talk time," and allows users to switch between devices (like the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch) while listening to music up to two times faster. And Siri can now be summoned by saying "Hey Siri." The update also added a new carrying case for the AirPods that will charge wirelessly. If the upcoming 2019 iPhone models feature reverse wireless charging as rumored, the new case will be able to sit on the back of one of the new units and power up. Of course, this will come at the expense of the battery inside the host iPhone.

Counterpoint noted that thanks to sales promotions run to clear out inventory, sales of the first-gen AirPods were higher than expected during the quarter. Sales of the second generation AirPods were weaker than expected. Some of that could be due to confusion among consumers, many of whom expected the new buds to be water-resistant and feature a new grip to keep them firmly planted in users' ears. Those rumors and others about some sort of health care feature for the accessory and a new Black color option were well publicized prior to the unveiling of the new version. As it turns out, these are features that we will probably see when the third generation AirPods come out later this year. Most likely, many consumers are holding off on purchasing the new AirPods and are awaiting the next version of the device.

Samsung's Galaxy Buds help put Samsung in second place for the first time


The graphs released by Counterpoint didn't include any actual percentages, but we can see from the graphs that Apple's AirPods have a huge lead over the second place Samsung Galaxy Buds. Samsung's wireless "hearables" were launched earlier this year and were handed out as a bonus to those purchasing a phone from the Galaxy S10 line. That promotion, by the way, is back until June 30th. The Galaxy Buds replaced the Gear IconX in Sammy's lineup and helped the company leap over Jabra to take second place for the first time. The Jabra Elite Active 65t was third.


Later this year, we should see two more heavyweights enter the market. Both Amazon and Microsoft are planning to release their own wireless Bluetooth earbuds this year. The former says that its device will be equipped with Alexa and will sound better and cost less than Apple's AirPods. Microsoft's Surface Buds will include Cortana integration.

During the first quarter of this year, Counterpoint says that the size of what it calls the "true wireless hearables" market was 17.5 million units. That is a 40% gain sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2018. That is impressive because Q4 of 2018 included the holiday shopping season.

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