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Q3 AirPods and Beats shipments slide by a third, says report

Airpods 3 With Case Right Earbud Lying In Front Of Case
Airpods 3 With Case Right Earbud Lying In Front Of Case (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new report says shipments of Beats and AirPods fell sharply in Q3.
  • Canalys claims shipments fell by 33% year on year.
  • Despite this, Apple still leads the market with a 25% share.

A new report from Canalys says that shipments of Apple's best true wireless earbuds including AirPods and Beats fell by 33.7% in Q3 of 2021, compared to the same time last year.

From Canalys:

Globally, the TWS category barely grew, up by just 1.3% to reach 72.2 million units. This was insufficient to offset the decline of wireless headphones and wireless earphones, which decreased by 4.7% and 4.9%, respectively.Apple maintained its leading global position in TWS, shipping 17.8 million units, but its shipments declined by nearly a third compared with a year ago, due to a significant drop in demand as consumers waited for the third-generation devices.

Figures show Apple's Q3 shipments for this year were 17.8 million, down from 26.8 million in Q3 of 2020, a fall of 33%. Despite this, Apple still maintained a dominant market share of 25% of shipments in the quarter, ahead of nearest rival Samsung (12%) in second place.

The report didn't offer any insight into why Apple's own shipments may have fallen so much. However, Apple recently released its AirPods 3, and these are likely to be very popular over the holiday period. It may be that many customers interested in AirPods were waiting for the long-rumored upgrade. Similarly, Apple's AirPods Pro are due for an upgrade next year.

The report did say that the market has been disrupted somewhat by more aggressive pricing, and vendors of very cheap TWS headphones are seeing dramatic growth. The report says the market overall is expected to return to "robust growth" in Q4, fuelled in part by Apple's new AirPods.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

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.