Apple dominates wireless audio segment despite AirPods shipment plunge

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Apple AirPods and Beats shipments fell by more than 30% in the third quarter of 2021, but the company still maintained its dominance of the market.

According to a new Canalys report, Apple shipped an estimated 17.8 million True Wireless Stereo devices — a category that includes AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Beats By Dre models — in Q3 2021. That's down 33.7% year-over-year from the 26.8 million audio accessories Apple shipped in Q3 2020.

Despite the plunge in shipments, likely caused by users waiting for third-generation AirPods, Apple is still the clear market leader — and the second-place contender isn't even close.

Apple had a 24.6% share of the market in Q3 2021, down from 37.6% in the year-ago quarter. In second place was Samsung, which includes the company's Harman subsidiaries. The South Korean firm had a 12% share of the market in the third quarter, up slightly from 10.8%.

Behind Samsung were brands like Xiaomi, boAt, and Edifier They had a 6.8%, 3.8%, and 3.8% share of the market. All other TWS brands accounted for the remaining 49%.

Overall, global TWS device shipments increased only slightly between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021. The entire market saw shipments numbering 72.2 million units in the third quarter of 2021, up about 1.3% year-over-year from 71.3 million shipments.

Canalys expects the entire market to return to robust growth for the holiday season compounded by the October release of Apple's third-generation AirPods, which feature a new design and additional audio features.