Apple’s AirPods are starting to lose steam, but their industry supremacy is not threatened (yet)
Despite facing rapidly intensifying competition from roughly a million different companies (not really, but close enough), Apple impressively managed to both maintain its incredible true wireless earbuds industry supremacy and boost those crucial AirPods sales numbers every year since the 2016 introduction of the first model.
While the same two things are expected to happen again in 2021, the Cupertino-based tech giant is reportedly lowering its overall AirPods production goals from as many as 110 million units to as “few” as 75 million copies.
Obviously, said figure is far from etched in stone at the moment and could still reach 85 million units or so, thus improving on a global 2020 shipment total of under 73 million, according to Counterpoint Research estimates that also put Apple’s market share at around 31 percent.
The problem is that AirPods have been growing at a much faster pace in previous years, and if the product family ends up gaining less than 10 million units in 2021, Apple’s slice of the worldwide pie will undoubtedly shrink. That’s because Xiaomi, Samsung, Huawei, and many other top brands of both the mobile and audio industries are likely to continue eating away at the market leader’s share.
All in all, Counterpoint analysts believe true wireless earbuds sales could jump by 33 percent from last year to around 310 million units in 2021, which means several companies are pretty much guaranteed to outpace Apple for a change.
Pundits are looking primarily at manufacturers specialized in “low-end and mid-tier products” to drive this healthy growth, at least until the third-gen high-end AirPods come out, which is likely to happen sometime during the second half of the year.
All that being said, it’s definitely worth highlighting that the aforementioned forecasted 33 percent progress for the market as a whole this year pales in comparison to 2020’s 80 percent surge from 2019. In other words, Apple’s AirPods may not be the world’s only true wireless earbuds to have to settle for lower than “usual” growth figures in 2021.
Sooner or later, every booming industry starts to slow down, and while true wireless earbuds haven’t hit their saturation point yet, that might be coming in the relatively near future as well. The good news is prices should continue to drop if all of these predictions end up coming true, and that’s likely to include many of the best true wireless earbuds available today in the US.