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Apple losing ground in true wireless earphones market to Chinese rivals

AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple could sell 82 million sets of AirPods this year.
  • Despite this, it is slowly losing its grip on the market.
  • Its dominance is being eroded by cheaper Chinese alternatives.

A new report says that Apple's grip on the true wireless earphones market is slipping, as Chinese rivals offering cheaper alternatives gain ground.

According to Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. will likely boost sales of its AirPods range by a third this year, but that won't stop it from losing its dominant grip on the fast-growing wireless earbuds market.

The report notes that Apple accounted for nearly half of all true wireless (TWS) sales in 2019. Apple is expected to sell 82 million units this year, according to the report, however, more affordable alternatives from Chinese rivals are reportedly eroding Apple's market share, which is now down to just 35%:

More affordable alternatives from Chinese rivals, however, have eroded Apple's lead and the Silicon Valley company now finds itself with just over a third of the market, at 35%, followed by Xiaomi Corp. with 10% and Samsung Electronics Co. on 6%, according to the researchers.

The report notes alternatives like the Lypertek Tevi, which supposedly offer "better fit and sound quality" at just $90, as well as the 1More True Wireless ANC, which outperform Apple's AirPods Pro whilst still being cheaper.

The report further notes that Android users cannot take advantage of many of the AirPods features as well as iPhone users, meaning price and feature sets are more important for many. Counterpoint Analyst Liz Lee told Bloomberg:

"The low-to-mid end segment including Chinese brands and U.S. makers such as JLab is taking away share from the premium market We believe that Samsung can attract more users, especially Android phone users if it provides a wider selection of TWS devices from mid to high-end with at least two or three variations."

The report expects competition in the sector to increase between Samsung and Apple, with Samsung closing the gap on Apple.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

2 Comments
  • I just love statistics. What you don't get from this article is that these are incremental sales that Apple would not have gotten anyway because of the price range that they do not want to play in. These new sales are to people that want wireless earphones but honestly cannot afford the Apple price tag. These same people won't buy Bose or Sony either. They are willing to sacrifice quality for price.
  • That’s because Apple earbuds are absurdly expensive. I have Sony and Aiwa buds, both work fine and sound fantastic (Sony) and great (Aiwa), both combined for less than anything Apple offers. Both also have better battery life than the lame 4-5 hours that Apple offers.