AirPods ProSource: Daniel Bader / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple shipped 108.9 AirPods and Beats headphones in 2020.
  • The company also shipped 35.2 million Apple Watches in the year.

Apple continues to dominate the audio and wearables market with AirPods and Apple Watch.

As reported by Canalys, Apple shipped 37.3 million AirPods and Beats headphones in Q4 2020, a feat that equated to a 26.5% share of the market and 26.6% growth when compared to Q4 2019. That Q4 performance caused the company to pass 100 million shipped headphones for 2020.

Smart Audio Shipments Q4Source: Canalys

Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen says that all brands experienced solid growth in 2020 for their audio products, but that it will be increasingly difficult to pull that off going forward.

"Due to the market's low barrier to entry, especially for TWS devices, where the mature supply chain resulted in better devices at lower price points, vast shipments flooded the market in a short period of time ... Established vendors, ranging from traditional audio players, to smart device vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have enjoyed robust growth in 2020, but they are faced with mounting challenges as they strive to differentiate in an increasingly homogeneous audio space."

Smart Audio ShipmentsSource: Canalys

When it comes to wearables, Apple shipped 14.5 million Apple Watches in Q4 2020, a 49.2% growth year over year. The company shipped a total of 35.2 million watches for the year, but Xiaomi actually shipped more.

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Wearable Shipments Q4Source: Canalys

Canalys Research Manager Jason Low pointed out that brands must view the space as a long-term strategy in order to build the kinds of devices that consumers will come to expect from the category.

"Wearable bands exhibit greater room for innovation compared to hearables. The challenge lies in making an appealing wearable band device with robust support of health and fitness features and services. This requires vendors to have a long-term strategy surrounding health and fitness analytics, which is often neglected by emerging players. Vendors should view this as a long-term journey where they can aim to solve users' real-life issues related to health, especially when new sensors allow for tracking of biometrics such as blood pressure or even glucose levels," added Low.

Wearable ShipmentsSource: Canalys

2020 saw a big addition to the AirPods lineup with the release of the AirPods Max, Apple's first self-branded over-the-ear wireless headphones. The company also released the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE in the fall.

Airpods Max Select Green

AirPods Max

Bottom line: AirPods Max provide a luxurious and premium headphone experience that works flawlessly across all of your Apple devices. They sound amazing, the ANC is even better than AirPods Pro, Spatial Audio is out of this world, and the battery lasts through a whole workday. The only bad thing about AirPods Max is that case.

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