Apple AirPods remained the market leader as the premium models in the true wireless hearables market, even as the overall segment saw growth in the fourth quarter of 2018. Data from research firm Counterpoint showed that the segment hit 12.5 million units in terms of total global shipments, with North America being the largest market, accounting for 24 per cent of the volumes, followed closely by the Asia Pacific region, excluding China and Europe.
According to Counterpoint’s data, Apple was the clear leader with a 60% market share in terms of overall brands. But the report also noted that Apple’s share in this segment was dented as customers waited for the new generation of AirPods. Apple announced the newer generation of AirPods, which have been informally dubbed as AirPods 2 last week.
The research firm said that thee strong performance of second-tier brands, such as JLab and QCY, also had a negative impact on Apple’s market share. The best sellers list in this segment featured premium models, which are priced around $150-200.
Other wireless hearables that stood out in the fourth quarter of 2018 were Jabra Elite Active 65t, Samsung Gear IconX, and Bose SoundSport Free. “In Q4 2018, cost-effective models such as JLab JBuds Air True Wireless and QCY T1 gained considerable market shares. As more companies enter the market and roll out new devices equipped with advanced features at a reasonable price, consumers will get a wider choice in the future. We expect the competition to intensify going ahead,” Liz Lee, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research said.
In terms of regions, Apple dominated its home market of North America, though Samsung and Jabra as well as JLab and iQ Podz also performed well in the US and Canada.
Apple did not perform so well in Europe with lower market share as compared to other regions, notes the report. Here Jabra had a market share of 14%. In Asia Pacific, which excludes China, Apple’s performance was healthy, but other brands like Britz and GLIDiC performed better.
Finally, in the important market of China, Apple’s market share was relatively lower as compared to other regions. Other brands like QCY, Honor, Edifier and ENKOR had a better stint in the China market, considering they are more affordable.