Wireless Headphone Market Surges 53% Year-Over-Year With Sales of 96.7 Million Units in Q3

Apple AirPods
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

A pair of the new Apple AirPods are seen during a launch event on Sept. 7, 2016 in San Francisco. 

Apple's Airpods dominated with sales of 18.2 million.

The global wireless earbud, earphone and headphone market enjoyed brisk growth in Q3 2019 with a 53% uptick in sales year-over-year, according to new data from research firm Canalys. That represents sales of 96.7 million units worldwide for all wireless headphones, earphones (a.k.a. tethered wireless earbuds) and “true wireless stereo” units (a.k.a. fully wireless earbuds, a designation that includes Airpods) during the quarter.

Not surprisingly, Canalys predicts 2019 will be the biggest year ever for the smart personal audio device market (a category that includes all three above-mentioned segments), with quarterly sales expected to top 100 million in Q4 and potentially 350 million for the year overall.

The firm notes that products in the “true wireless stereo” segment saw the biggest growth in Q3, with a huge gain of 183% over the same quarter last year, effectively surpassing earphones and headphones to become the largest segment in the category for the first time ever. Apple enjoyed the largest share of sales in true wireless stereo by a wide margin (43%) thanks to the booming popularity of its Airpods, with shipments of 18.2 million units during the quarter.

“Apple is in clear leadership position,” said Canalys vp of mobility Nicole Peng in a statement. “The seamless integration with iPhone, unique sizing and noise cancelling features…is where other smartphone vendors such as Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi are aiming their [true wireless stereo] devices.”

Despite Apple’s clear market dominance (the tech giant unveiled its noise-cancelling Airpods Pro in October), the category of wireless audio devices is set to expand early next year with the release of Google’s Pixel Buds and Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds, both fully wireless earbuds that are designed to compete directly with Airpods.