Another day, another data point showing how Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continues to dominate the hearables market that it helped pioneer with its wildly popular AirPods. Market researcher IDC recently estimated that the tech titan grabbed a whopping 50% of hearables market share in the second quarter, shipping 15.9 million units thanks in part to a refreshed second-generation model that launched in March. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) finally jumped in to the wearables market this year, announcing $130 Echo Buds that include Alexa.

The e-commerce behemoth will be facing an uphill battle in terms of brand awareness.

AirPods on top of an iPhone

AirPods remain the most popular wireless earphones on the market. Image source: Apple.

Apple and Beats are two of the five top brands

Counterpoint Research released new estimates this week on consumer preferences in the booming hearables market, based on a recent survey of U.S. consumers. Apple's AirPods lead the way by a significant margin, with 57% of respondents indicating a preference for AirPods for their next purchase. Prominent high-end audio company Bose came in No. 2, followed by South Korean conglomerate Samsung.

Brand

Preference

Apple

57%

Bose

39%

Samsung

33%

Sony

31%

Beats

26%

Data source: Counterpoint Research. Percentages do not sum to 100% since the question had multiple possible responses.

Apple scores strong marks thanks to ease of use, comfort, superior audio quality, and portability, according to Counterpoint. Furthermore, the company's position becomes even stronger when you include its Beats brand. Apple launched Powerbeats Pro over the summer, which at $250 are even pricier than AirPods.

The survey also shows that nearly 60% of respondents already own wireless headphones or earphones, but approximately 40% are open to buying another hearable within the next year. Many of those products are over a year old, and the technology is evolving rapidly enough that consumers are willing to upgrade. Including artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants is now a key selling feature, with 70% of the survey's respondents indicating that those features will factor into their future purchasing decisions.

Amazon's Alexa is widely considered to be superior to and more popular than Apple's Siri. The Echo Buds also feature Bose's noise-cancellation technology, which is the first time that the company has incorporated its tech into a third-party product. AirPods do not currently offer noise cancellation, although Apple is expected to add the feature in future versions, potentially as soon as next year.

Expectedly, the broader trend of smartphone manufacturers omitting headphone jacks -- a controversial movement that Apple started -- has accelerated adoption of wireless hearables. There are even signs that Apple is contemplating removing headphone jacks from Macs, sending out surveys asking users if they use the port.

Separately, Counterpoint forecast in August that the wireless hearables market is expected to hit 120 million units in 2019.