“Headphones have been centre stage of the digital music market since the launch of the iPod in 2001,” Mark Mulligan reports for Music Industry Blog.

“Without headphones, streaming music would not have the biggest driver of subscriber adoption: smartphone listening. Back in the peak of the Walkman era of portable audio, headphone listening was still a comparatively niche activity and skewed heavily towards younger consumers,” Mulligan reports. “Now though, only 30% of consumers do not have a pair of headphones, and smartphone listening is the second most widespread way of listening to music – behind the car and ahead of home speakers.”

“MIDiA has just published a new report exploring this marketplace and one of the key findings may surprise you: Apple is the market leader in headphone ownership,” Mulligan reports. “Just as Apple stole Sony’s leading position in portable audio players, it is now doing the same with headphones. When its three headphone brand categories are combined (EarPods, AirPods, Beats – an Apple company) Apple has the leading market share in headphone ownership with 24%. Sony is second with 22%, followed by fellow traditional CE stalwarts Panasonic and Bose. The top four corporate-level headphone brands represent 61% of the total, illustrating just how fragmented the rest of the market is, with countless brands competing for share. Interestingly, Apple is the only top 20 headphone brand whose owners are not majority male.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What’s most surprising is that Apple’s lead is so slim over second place Sony. You’d think that with all of those iPods sold, then all of the iPhones, plus Beats, the lead would be significantly greater.