Thu, Feb 13, 2020 - Page 12 News List

Booming TWS hearable devices market faces uncertainty from virus

By Natasha Li  /  Staff reporter

The true wireless stereo (TWS) hearable devices market soared 53 percent quarterly to 51 million units last quarter, but Counterpoint Research Inc on Tuesday trimmed its growth outlook for this quarter due to growing uncertainties from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hearable devices include any wearable device that hangs on or plugs into the ear, such as earbuds.

Claiming a 41 percent market share, Apple Inc’s offerings posted a 44 percent growth last quarter on the back of its new AirPods Pro wireless earbud, of which the company has sold up to 6 million units, despite supply shortages, the report said.

China’s Xiaomi Corp (小米) claimed second place in the market on hefty sales of its Redmi AirDots wireless earbud, while South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics Co followed closely behind.

Dongguan Hele Electronics Co Ltd (東莞和樂電子) and JLab Audio LLC were fourth and fifth place respectively, the report said.

Overall, the TWS hearables market swelled from 46 million units in 2018 to 130 million units last year, slightly beating previous predictions of 129 million units, it said.

While the market is expected to continue an upward trend, the COVID-19 outbreak has somewhat dampened market outlook, the Hong Kong-based researcher said.

“The spread of a coronavirus will have an impact on production and operations in China as some of ODM/OEM [original design manufacturer / original equipment manufacturer] and component fabs will not function properly [to maintain] the supply of true wireless hearables,” Counterpoint senior analyst Liz Lee (李利茲) said in an e-mail.

“We expect that Asia-Pacific [region] (excluding China) will have over 70 [percent] growth [year-on-year] and China will have over 110 [percent] growth for 2020,” Lee said, adding that these figures would be further adjusted next quarter, depending on how the epidemic situation in China plays out.

Lee previously forecast a 90 percent growth rate for the region, excluding China, and a 120 percent growth rate for the Chinese market.

Demand is not likely to be heavily affected as a larger proportion of sales are made through online channels compared with those of other devices such as smartphones, Lee said.

“The market growth is also mainly driven by demand from developed countries in other regions such as the US, so the key will be only how much and how quickly the impact on the supply side can be reduced,” she said, adding that increasing demand for Apple’s AirPods Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus would further propel growth in these regions.

This story has been modified since it was first published.

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