Apple AirPods are still the top product in expanding wireless headphone market

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Apple's AirPods continued to dominate the wireless headphone market in 2020, holding a nearly 50% share as the segment saw tremendous growth.

According to new data from Strategy Analytics, the total number of Bluetooth headphones shipped in 2020 is estimated to have pushed beyond 300 million. That represents total market growth of nearly 90% year-over-year.

In the True Wireless Stereo (TWS) headset market, Apple's audio accessories held onto a commanding lead with nearly half of the market. The closest competitor was Xiaomi, and it wasn't that close.

Despite Apple's dominant position, Strategy Analytics notes that the company's lead is actually shrinking as competition in the space heats up. The analytics firm is expecting strong competition from companies like Xiaomi, Samsung, and Huawei in 2021.

According to Ken Hyers, director at Strategy Analytics, the TWS market is "huge overcrowded." Although the sales outlook looks promising, he says that consolidation of the market in the years ahead appears inevitable.

The market still has plenty of room to grow, too. Strategy Analytics says its research indicates that less than one in 10 people own a Bluetooth headset.

"There is still plenty of potential in the broader Bluetooth headset market," said Strategy Analytics Associate Director Ville-Petteri Ukonaho. "As leading vendors are no longer bundling wired headsets with new smartphones, we see huge potential for Bluetooth headsets."

Apple's audio accessory lineup includes the standard AirPods, as well as the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro and the premium over-ear AirPods Max. Recent reports also indicate that new AirPods models, including a second-generation version of AirPods Pro, are on the horizon in 2021.