Since their launch in 2016, AirPods have been known to dominate the True Wireless headset market. But by this year, that position seems to have eroded: according to Counterpoint data, the market share of AirPods in the second quarter fell to only 35%, much lower than 49% in 2019. Worthwhile More surprisingly, this happens when the AirPods are not yet in recession: also according to Counterpoint, total sales of AirPods this year will rise to 82 million units, up from 61 million last year.
Once opening the “modern smartphone” revolution, Apple is still fast to lose market share to Android manufacturers.
The situation of the current AirPods reminds a lot of what happened to the iPhone the day before. Released in 2007, this handset revolutionized the entire market, wiping out all previous designs and “assimilating” the mobile world into thin and light devices with four rounded corners. The appearance of the iPhone can be considered as the direct cause of the death of the “brick” Nokia and the BlackBerry messaging machine, at the same time directly inspiring the birth of Android.
Given this revolutionary role, it is not difficult to understand that iPhone sales have consistently increased in the first years. In the first 5 years, worldwide iPhone sales almost doubled year by year. In the second quarter of 2011, the number of shipped iPhones outperformed Nokia smartphones.
But Apple has never captured the crown of the mobile market in general (including smartphones and basic phones). A year later, when Nokia lost its number one position, the one who rose to the throne was Samsung, not Apple. During the same time Apple grew rapidly, Samsung was… even faster. When iPhone sales started to stop growing in 2012, Samsung managed to double its previous global Galaxy sales.
And, with the arrival of Chinese Android brands, Apple’s market share continued to decline. From 2017 until now, iPhone sales have rarely exceeded the 20% threshold – most of the rest has belonged to the green robot.
Like the iPhone before, the market share of AirPods is increasingly shrinking before the attack of competitors with lower prices.
The reason why Android smartphones rise to crush the iPhone in terms of market share is completely understandable: while Apple always says no to the high-end segment, Android smartphones are available at all prices. Even when Apple made concessions and released products aimed at “economical” users like the iPhone SE ($ 400), the “soft price” of the iPhone was still four times the price of the Android with good experiences – such as Vsmart Joy.
Today’s AirPods also pursue the same strategy. The cheapest version costs up to $ 200, which is about 10 times higher than Xiaomi’s Redmi Airdots. While the AirPods Pro are priced at $ 250, Samsung’s top-of-the-line model, the Galaxy Buds Live, is included free of charge for Galaxy Note20 Ultra buyers.
Therefore, the fact that the headset companies are accelerating to take up market share of the AirPods can be considered inevitable. According to Counterpoint, while the AirPods can only grow 34% this year, sales of Samsung headphones have doubled (212.5%). Sooner or later, the AirPods will return to being a product that holds the minority market share.
Like last time, Tim Cook will not be worried at all about the future of the AirPods.
But should that worry Apple? Probably not. Even when losing the No. 2 position to Huawei, Apple is still considered by Warren Buffet as the “best company in the world”. Apple’s profit for the quarter was more than double that of Huawei’s six-month profit. The iPhone has become clear evidence that, even when it is crushed in market share, its dominance in the high-end segment will help Apple “eat” all the profits of the market.
The same goes for the AirPods. If Apple’s average rate of return is 30%, an AirPods selling for $ 200 will bring in $ 60. A $ 20 “Airdots” or a free Galaxy Buds wouldn’t be so profitable. Like the iPhone, the AirPods will continue to be sold at high prices, will continue to lose their position in the hands of competitors … It doesn’t matter, because in Tim Cook’s vision, Apple has never had to take the position. No. 1 does nothing.