Wireless Headphones Dominate in 2019 with Apple Leading

Wireless headphone and earphone sales grew more than 50 per cent in 2019 – compared to 2018 – with third quarter sales reaching 96.7 million units according to figures released by a research firm.

While this isn’t surprising in, and of itself, what might be surprising is that according to the report, Apple controls 43 per cent of the wireless headphone market. The ubiquitous white earbuds continue to be the arbiter of what average consumers are buying.

Seems that 20+ years on Cupertino is still leading the pack for what most people recognize as ‘quality sound’ when it comes to dropping $200 USD or more on personal audio of the wireless ear/headphone variety. Will that ever change?

What this means for hi-fi leaning, audiophile-branded companies in the wireless market still remains to be seen, but the fight to convince cash-wielding purchasers looking for wireless convenience and SQ in an IEM or similar form factor seems to remain a hard sell, rather than an easy one. Chipping away at this much market share and brand power still makes Apple the company to beat. But, as prices climb ever higher for what John Q. Public is willing to spend to facilitate the translation of binary data to analog waveform from their smart phones or portable devices, perhaps that many more individuals will start to look at options outside the Appleverse.

I’ve always been of a mind that massive consumer growth in the personal-audio marketplace – regardless of how generic or mainstream that buy-in is – can only translate to increased sales for high-fidelity companies strictly from a numbers standpoint. If that many millions more people are looking to buy wireless, then it only makes sense that more eyeballs may slide sideways away from the Apple display and over to the Audio-Technica, AKG, Beyerdynamic, Bowers & Wilkins, B&O, Bose or Sony shelves. If that starts happening more and more, then it might be only a matter of time before those buyers start to consider a climb up the quality ladder and listen to what’s happening with Audeze, Focal, HIFIMAN, or Sennheiser. Wouldn’t be cool to see everyone rocking Momentum Wireless instead a sea of white earbuds on the train during your morning commute?

audx's picture

Can't handle the in-ear buds and earbuds for only a limited timeframe.

Apple AirPods work fine for what they are. I have a number of IOS devices and swapping amongst them is dare I say magical? I paid $145 for mine and oddly enough part of the attraction was being able to purchase all these additional carrying cases.

I also have a pair of Bose Frames and I'm having to take care to ensure that they connect to the correct device.

But to some extent, all of this is pointless because these devices as well as all other wireless devices are unable to go beyond 44/16 when out and about. Or vinyl or reel to reel, etc.

So I can't figure out which makes me look more stupid -- the AirPods or the giant headphones at home.

Actually, I do know. I wouldn't get caught wearing the giant headphones out in public.

Further, if I were on a subway, I just couldn't see wearing $200 or up buds or headphones. I'd probably stick on those wired Apple buds :)