Mid-tier brands have started to gain market share while Apple has emerged as the market leader with its AirPods
The size of the global market for true wireless bearable stood 12.5 million units in Q4 2018, according to the findings of Counterpoint Research’s Hearables Market Tracker. North America was the largest market, accounting for 24 per cent of the volumes, followed closely by the Asia Pacific region excluding China and Europe.
In terms of brands, Apple was the clear leader with a 60 per cent market share. However, its share was dented as customers waited for the new generation of AirPods, scheduled for launch in Q1 2019. The strong performance of second-tier brands, such as JLab and QCY, also had a negative impact on Apple’s market share.
Apart from Apple’s AirPods, the best sellers list featured premium models priced around US$150-200. Jabra Elite Active 65t, Samsung Gear IconX, and Bose SoundSport Free featured were some of the premium models in the top 10 best-selling list. However, several low to mid-tier models priced under US$100 also made their mark.
Report for major regions during Q4 2018
Apple remained strong in its home market. However, global brands like Samsung and Jabra, and interestingly JLab and iQ Podz, also performed well in the US and Canada. Apple underperformed in Europe with a bit lower market share as compared to other regions. Other premium brands, such as Jabra, outperformed. Jabra, in particular, had a market share of 14 per cent. Performance of new brands such as Arbily, HolyHigh, and Vigoshop across Western Europe was also noteworthy.
Apple’s performance seemed healthy but the eye-catching performance was from the new Asian brands like Britz and GLIDiC. Growth in the Asia Pacific market is expected to be strong driven by developing countries. Apple’s market share was relatively lower as compared to other regions in China. QCY’s presence is growing with its budget devices T1 and T1S. Other Chinese local brands including Honor, Edifier and ENKOR also had a strong performance in China.
Speaking about the competitive landscape, Liz Lee, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “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. ”