Juniper Research: Apple will ship 24 million AirPods this year

A new report from Juniper Research has found that there will be an estimated 417 million hearables in use by 2022. This includes fitness-focused devices, hearing augmentation and purely audio-focused devices such as Apple’s AirPods.

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The research found that more than 271 million audio-focused multimedia hearables from the likes of Apple, Bose, Google, Samsung and Sennheiser will be in use by 2022, compared to an estimated 62 million in 2018. 

These will represent over 50% of all wireless headphones in use by 2022, reaching as high as 80% in the U.S. Apple’s AirPods have emerged as a clear leader, with Juniper estimated that around 24 million AirPods will be shipped in 2018. The research group predicted that as mid-range and budget manufacturers leverage voice assistants to enhance their devices, over 75% of hearables in use will incorporate voice assistants by 2022.

“In some cases, voice assistants will be the only ‘hearable’ feature of these devices,” says research author James Moar. “Premium players need to provide other features to distinguish themselves, like advanced audio adjustments or innovative interfaces.”

He added that the fitness segment has strong differentiation here, with custom assistants providing in-the-moment workout feedback, but these are only expected to make up 10% of hearables in use in 2022, thanks to their niche use case. Juniper said that assistive hearables will win on revenues, generating over $40 billion annually by 2022, as hearing aids integrate mobile technologies and maintain medical industry prices.

The research group adds that consumer assistive hearables are less expensive, which is proving appealing to healthcare institutions. Juniper expects existing hearing aid players to maintain control of most medical distribution channels for the foreseeable future.