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Apple Continues to Rule the Wearables Roost With AirPods and Apple Watch

New Canalys analysis reveals just how well Apple’s doing with both its “hearables” and Apple Watch.


Apple continues to dominate the audio wearables industry, a new Canalys report suggests. New data published by the technology market analysis firm suggests that Apple shipped approximately 108.9 million AirPods and Beats devices during 2020.

That translates to a roughly 25.2% market share of the worldwide smart personal audio shipments for the year. It’s an increase in both shipments and market share on the previous year, in which the Cupertino tech company reportedly shipped 84 million units for a 23.3% slice of the overall pie. That means that Apple saw annual growth of 29.6% in this area.

Apple’s Closest Rivals

As with phones, Apple’s closest rival was Samsung. However, unlike smartphones this was no closely run race. Samsung, despite being in second place, only shipped 38.3 million units in the year, a little over a third of what Apple managed. That gave it a market share of 8.9%. Although Samsung’s shipments improved over 2019, when it did 37.1 million shipments, its market share decreased slightly from 10.3% that year. Overall, Samsung’s hearables growth for the 12-month period was 3.5%.

Xiaomi followed in third place, with 25.4 million shipments for a 5.9% piece of the market. While that’s, again, only a fraction of what Apple managed, Xiaomi nonetheless represented the year’s most impressive record solely in terms of growth—achieving an 82.8% increase compared to its 2019 performance.

Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen praised the three companies, but sounded a note of warning as well. “Established vendors, ranging from traditional audio players, to smart device vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have enjoyed robust growth in 2020, but they are faced with mounting challenges as they strive to differentiate in an increasingly homogeneous audio space,” Chen said in a statement.

Since Apple’s AirPods Max headphones didn’t ship until the end of 2020, they are a non-factor in Apple’s overall sales for the year. For their impact, we’ll have to wait until the 2021 report.

Apple Watch Triumphant, Too

Apple also performed extremely when it came to the Apple Watch, Canalys reports. In the last quarter of 2020, the firm claims Apple shipped 14.5 million Apple Watches for 25% of the market. That made it easily the best “worldwide wearable band” provider out there.

But when taken as a whole year record, Apple just lost out to Xiaomi, which managed reported shipments of 37.7 million to Apple’s 35.2 million. In both the full year and Q4, Huawei followed in third place.

All in all, it’s great news for Apple, whose wearables division continues to go from strength to strength, both critically and commercially.

Image Credit: Omid Armin/Unsplash CC

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