The global TWS (True Wireless Stereo Headset) market is expected to grow 33% YoY (year-over-year) in 2021, reaching 310 million units, according to the Counterpoint Global Hearables (TWS) Market Tracker for Q4 2020 report.
COVID-19 impacted TWS production in China early last year, but the situation has improved since then and the production capacity is now at full-utilization levels. In terms of consumer demand, the impact has been limited, as the market has a relatively higher portion of online sales than other tech devices. Besides, more consumers were willing to purchase tech gadgets and accessories to improve their work/study-from-home experiences.
However, the proportion of low- to mid-end model sales has increased faster than expected due to the economic downturn and related uncertainties. The phenomenon has indeed affected high-end brands’ performances and the overall blended ASP (average selling price) of the market.
As COVID-19 will unlikely ease in a short time despite the spread of vaccination, the pent-up demand for high-end TWS is not expected to explode until late Q3 2021. Therefore, major top brands such as Apple are likely to launch next-generation products and make aggressive moves from Q4 onwards this year, which will boost the TWS market further. However, the high growth of the low- to mid-end segment will remain unchanged through the year.
In terms of brand performance, there was no big surprise in 2020. Apple continued to dominate but its share declined steadily through the year and fell below one-third of the TWS market. This year, it will remain a leader selling around 84 million units, but still lose share by 4%p. Xiaomi and Samsung will follow Apple with shares similar to those in 2020.
Senior Research Analyst Liz Lee said, “Most anticipated is a new release from Apple, its first in two years. We expect it to be one of the biggest drivers of TWS market growth from Q4 2021 to the next year. Apple will maintain strong market leadership based on its loyal customer base, although its share will inevitably fall with the intensifying competition.”
Lee added, “At that point, the market focus will gradually shift to the mid- to high-price segment as vaccinations help consumer sentiment improve. Then, most premium brands will add advanced features and various functions to their new models and create high value addition in the long term. Meanwhile, low- to mid-priced brands will further enhance price competitiveness to compete for market share.”