|LG Electronics' Tone Plus Free wireless earbuds / Courtesy of LG Electronics|
By Baek Byung-yeul
LG Electronics has released wireless earbuds, entering the rapidly growing cordless "headphone" market after witnessing Apple's huge success with its popular AirPods.
Industry analysts said Tuesday that releasing wireless earbuds have become a must and companies are increasingly trying to offer features beyond the wireless audio listening experience, such as artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and health status monitoring features.
LG Electronics recently announced it will release its first wireless earbuds Tone Plus Free here on Oct. 28. Priced at 259,000 won ($217), LG cooperated with British audio company Meridian Audio.
To make it more competitive, the charging case of the product will have a UV light to disinfect the earbuds when they are stored in the case.
"To better offer clear call quality, the Tone Plus Free features two microphones ― a voice microphone and a noise elimination microphone," LG said. "With the product, we will actively target the country's wireless earbuds market.
Wireless earbuds were considered a niche market, targeting early adopters who wanted to be the first to try an innovative product. However, things have changed since Apple rolled out the first-generation AirPods in 2016 as a growing number of people now purchase them to enjoy the cordless audio experience.
Apple sold more than 35 million AirPods in 2018, taking the global market share of 76 percent in 2018, according to data by industry tracker Counterpoint Research. Though its share is expected to be around 50 percent in 2019, as more companies have joined the competition, the market volume will grow to 120 million this year.
|Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Buds / Courtesy of Samsung Electronics|
Samsung is placed second with a market share of 8 percent thanks to the growing popularity of its Galaxy Buds.
The superior sound quality of the Galaxy Buds was recently recognized by Consumer Reports as the earbuds received the highest overall score of 86 in the U.S. magazine's recent test.
|Apple's AirPods / Courtesy of Apple Korea|
Microsoft recently unveiled its first wireless earphones Surface Earbuds. Though the company is a latecomer, it said its button-shaped earbuds will offer more productivity features to users. Priced at $249, the earbuds can transcribe words in real time. The product can also translate users' speech into more than 60 languages.
Amazon also announced its Echo Buds, which feature its AI voice assistant Alexa and noise reduction technology. The product has price competitiveness compared with products from its rivals, as it will be sold at $129.99, cheaper than the AirPods and the Surface Earbuds.
"The wireless earbuds market will create various business opportunities as companies will develop smaller sized devices with improved AI features," Lee Yoon-jung, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said.