The Asia Pacific region emerged as one of the most promising markets for smart personal audio (which covers TWS, wireless earphones, and wireless headphones) in Q1 2020, as per a report from Canalys. And in that region, India is now a major player, the second-largest in fact, after Korea. And leading the Indian charge is an Indian brand. Here are some interesting facts from the report:


1. The market leader in India is…Boat!

In what might come as a huge surprise to many people, the market leader in the Indian smart personal audio market is an Indian brand, Boat. The brand finished ahead of the likes of Samsung, Realme, Sony, and Xiaomi, and had a 20 percent market share, representing a staggering year on year growth of 168 percent. This would be approximately 0.75 million units, given that the Indian market in this period shipped about 3.7 million units.

2. Realme gets off to a flier, but do not write off Sony yet

and india's top smart personal audio brand is... boat! - canalys smart audio
Image: Canalys

The other brands in the top five in the Indian smart personal audio market all recorded impressive growth in this period. Samsung is just behind Boat with a 19 percent share of the market (and 32 percent growth), while Realme surprised everyone by getting into third place with a 10 percent share in spite of being a relative newcomer (it was not the segment in Q1 2019!). Xiaomi came fifth with a 6 percent share, but this represented a stunning 316 percent year on year growth, and could well be the reason why the brand is focusing so much on personal audio in recent times. In fourth place is an old favorite that many had forgotten. Yes, Sony is alive and kicking and has a 6 percent share, with an impressive 66 percent year on year growth.

3. Wireless earphones are dominating the category in India

As per the report, wireless earphones account for “more than half” of the smart personal audio market. The main reason for this is evidently the fact that they are generally more affordable and more reliable. All the top five vendors in the Indian market shipped more wireless earphones than any other product in the category.

4. TWS not quite there, but could be the future

vivo tws earbuds neo

Truly Wireless Earphones had started making their presence felt in India in this period, but are right now well behind wireless earphones (and actually as per the graphic, seem close to even wireless headphones), and have a 20 percent share of the smart personal audio market. According to an analyst, that is because wireless earphones are seen as being more reliable than budget TWS. Analysts say that they expect the TWS category to become more popular, as the convenience of TWS becomes evident and also because smartphone vendors such as Realme and Xiaomi will put greater emphasis. Given the spurt in TWS releases in recent times, we sure can see that happening.

5. Asia-Pacific third largest region for smart personal audio

and india's top smart personal audio brand is... boat! - smart personal audio canalys
Image: Canalys

As per the report, Asia Pacific (which does not include Greater China) became the third-highest sub-region behind North America and Greater China in the smart personal audio market. The Asia Pacific region accounted for 16 million units in Q1 2020, a growth of 61 percent. North America has a 27.8 percent share of the market, Greater China 21.6 percent and the Asia Pacific now accounts for 21.1 percent (It could overtake China given the growth of the segment in India in the coming quarters, we think.)

6. India is the second biggest market in Asia Pacific

In the Asia Pacific region itself, India has emerged as the second-largest market for smart personal audio, with 3.7 million units in Q1 2020, accounting for a 23 percent share of the region. The Indian market in Q1 2020 was larger than Japan (2.8 million units) and the ASEAN region (2.7 million units). Only Korea with 4.3 million units shipped more and had a 27 percent share of the region. Once again, given the spree of wireless devices launched in India in Q2 and Q3 2020, this could change.

and india's top smart personal audio brand is... boat! - asean smart hearables
Image: Canalys

7. Korea, the leader in the Asia Pacific, but polar opposite to India

Korea might be the leader in the Asia Pacific region, but its smart personal audio market is very different from the Indian one. In Korea, TWS account for 74 percent of the market, and Samsung and Apple are the leading brands, with Samsung holding the top spot thanks to the release of the Galaxy Buds+!

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