If you follow enough tech blogs, it's probably pretty clear that interest in true wireless earbuds has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. It took a while for some traditional audio brands to jump on board, but you'll be hard pushed to find one that doesn't make a TWS set now, and it's even possible to find cheaper models that don't sound terrible these days.
Market analysis from Canalys shows that sales figures back up these observations — true wireless earbuds are the fastest-growing product in the audio segment, with an annual increase of 183% in Q3 2019, and they've surpassed wireless earphones (the ones with wires connecting the two buds) and wireless headphones (on-ear and over-ear) to become the most popular product category.
A total of 43 million TWS units were sold worldwide in the third quarter of last year, with (you've guessed it) Apple taking the biggest slice of that pie (43%) with 18.2 million AirPods shipped, and it's sure to maintain a healthy lead at the top thanks to its new noise-canceling Pro variant. Xiaomi (7%) and Samsung (6%) are distant runners up in global sales, followed by a host of audio brands and phone makers jostling for position in the lucrative market.
While traditional audio brands have been able to leverage their expertise to provide products that sound great, Android smartphone makers are hoping to copy the Apple model and provide an earbud plus phone solution with real benefits. A well-integrated set of earbuds are an easy upsell product, or, in the case of Samsung's Galaxy Buds, make for a good product to bundle with your latest phone to entice customers. We should see a lot more of this in 2020, with more emphasis on high-fidelity audio as a differentiator as well as an increase in the number of products with supposed AI capabilities — watch this space.