The market for true wireless audio devices saw big growth numbers in 2020 and is expected to go higher up this year. The global market is expected to grow 33 per cent year-on-year in 2021, with shipments expected to reach 310 million units, suggests a new report by Counterpoint Global Hearables Market Forecast, 2021-2023.
In 2020, shipments of TWS products grew by 78 per cent year-on-year despite the pandemic-triggered economic fall. The market slightly exceeded the initial annual estimate for 2020 to reach 233 million units. The report suggests this could be driven by the strong performance of low- and mid-price segments in 2020.
While the COVID crisis in China initially impacted TWS production early last year, the situation has improved since then and the production capacity is now at full-utilisation levels. However, in terms of consumer demand, the impact has been limited as more consumers were willing to purchase tech gadgets and accessories to improve their work/study-from-home experiences.
Demand for high-end brands expected to rise in Q3 2021
“The proportion of low- to mid-end model sales has increased faster than expected due to the economic downturn and related uncertainties. The phenomenon has indeed affected high-end brands’ performances and the overall blended ASP (average selling price) of the market,” explained the report.
Despite the vaccination efforts being taken around the world, the pandemic is unlikely to ease up in a short period of time. The report suggests that due to this, the pent-up demand for high-end TWS headsets is not expected to explode until late Q3 2021.
Hence, major top brands such as Apple are likely to launch their next-generation products Q4 onwards this year, which should further boost the TWS market. However, the high growth of the low- to mid-end segment will remain unchanged through the year.
Which brands led the market?
Apple continued to dominate the TWS market in 2020 but its share declined steadily through the year, falling below one-third of the market. It is expected to lead the market this year as well, selling around 84 million units. However, the report suggests Apple could lose 4 per cent market share in 2021.
“Most anticipated is a new release from Apple, it’s first in two years. We expect it to be one of the biggest drivers of TWS market growth from Q4 2021 to the next year,” Senior Research Analyst Liz Lee said, adding that “Apple will maintain strong market leadership based on its loyal customer base, although its share will inevitably fall with the intensifying competition.”