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Apple's AirPods will remain unchallenged this year as second place competition heats up

Apple's AirPods will remain unchallenged this year as second place competition heats up
2019 was not a great year for smartphones or tablets, but true wireless hearables (aka earbuds) totally blew up, reaching 130 million unit sales around the world, of which an incredible 51 million units were moved during the final calendar quarter alone.

That 51 million tally represented an improvement of no less than 53 percent over an already impressive Q3 total of 33 million units, which was in turn 22 percent higher than the number of true wireless earbuds sold worldwide between April and June 2019. Although analysts had predicted further global market growth, the aforementioned Q4 2019 count exceeded even the highest expectations, and unsurprisingly, Apple deserves a lot of the credit for this latest surge in demand.

Despite only releasing the AirPods Pro in late October in limited numbers, the Cupertino-based tech giant managed to sell close to 21 million pairs of true wireless earbuds overall in the last three months of 2019. Of those, the $250 Pro model accounted for around 6 million units, or under 30 percent of the total, which nonetheless contributed greatly to Apple's crushing 62 percent dominance of the Q4 revenue chart.

We're talking a whopping $4 billion or so generated solely by Apple's own-brand hearables, with the company's Beats subsidiary sitting in second place in the money chart despite ranking a modest eight as far as quarterly shipments are concerned. Somewhat surprisingly, Samsung didn't make the revenue podium, ranking behind Jabra in fourth place, while also losing the shipment silver medal to Xiaomi.

All in all, Counterpoint Research reckons around 8 million Galaxy Buds were sold in 2019, compared to more than 61 million AirPods units. Apple seized a dominant 47 percent slice of the full-year pie in shipments and 62 percent of revenue, aiming to sell over 100 million pairs of AirPods in 2020 as "competition for second place" is set to "remain fierce." 

The vastly upgraded Galaxy Buds+ could help Samsung trump Xiaomi in shipments and keep the likes of Beats and Jabra at bay as far as revenues are concerned, but let's wait and actually see hear those bad boys in action before proclaiming them the world's best new AirPods alternatives.


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