2022 Ends Disappointingly for True Wireless Earbuds, Including Apple AirPods

True Wireless Earbuds Take a Hit in Q4 2022, Despite Strong Performance Earlier

While 2022 was a tough year for consumer spending in most categories of the electronics industry, including smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, true wireless earbuds had performed well for most of the year. However, the market crashed in Q4, marking a year-over-year decline of a staggering 23 percent.

The Latest Global Data on True Wireless Stereo (TWS) Shipments

According to Canalys, worldwide TWS shipments totaled 79.5 million units between October and December 2022. However, this number pales in comparison to almost 104 million pairs of earbuds sold around the world in the same period of the previous year.

Nearly All TWS Brands Saw a Drop in Sales During Q4

Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and boAt all suffered losses, and so did other vendors outside of the top five. Among these companies, Oppo (including OnePlus) was the only one that saw a rise of 11 percent in Q4, which was not enough to put it in the top five for the year.

Apple and Samsung Remain the Leaders, While AirPods 3 Take a Hit

Apple, including Beats, remained on top for both Q4 and the entire year, with Samsung, including JBL, in second place. However, Apple’s shipment scores were considerably lower during the 2022 holiday season compared to the previous one, mainly due to weaker market performance of AirPods 3 without noise-cancellation features. The AirPods Pro 2 with state-of-the-art active noise cancellation and other premium features contributed to the massive growth of the $200-$299 segment.

What Does the Future Hold for TWS Earbuds?

While Apple continues to dominate the market, the best wireless earbuds and high-end Bluetooth headphones need to become cheaper to invigorate the market. All sectors of the global “smart personal audio” market are contracting, including classic wireless headphones that cover ears and “non-true” wireless earphones.

Potential Discounts for Galaxy Buds from Samsung and Xiaomi

While Samsung and Xiaomi saw a sharp decline in Q4 and the full year, the significant drops in sales may lead to bigger and more frequent discounts for Galaxy Buds, providing a potential upside for consumers.