After Ini­tial Hic­cups, Apple Air­Pods Rule the Wire­less Ear­phone Market


In September 2016, Apple unveiled the AirPods and was criticized for a number of reasons including form factor, connectivity issue, and shipment delays and now people are buying them faster than Apple is able to manufacture.

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Photo: Apple

After initial hiccups, when Apple AirPods was first released in December 2016, Beats wireless audio headsets led the category with a market share of 24.1 percent. But within a month of AirPods’ release, Beats wireless audio market share plummeted to 15.4 percent.

Even though people remained skeptical about the AirPods’ design, the wireless earphones saw a huge surge in demand soon after it was released, so much so that there were delays in shipment — maybe even Apple didn’t expect such demand.

Within a month of launch, the $159 Apple AirPods captured a market share of 26 percent.

Although it can be argued that Apple had a ready-made market for its AirPods owing to its iPhone 7 which didn’t feature a 3.5mm headphone jack and the AirPod was supposed to be its worthy companion.

Apple Sold 765 Million AirPods in 2017

And now after a year of the unveiling, the odds surely seem in Apple’s favor as according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, AirPods have accounted for 85 percent of the total sales in the wireless earphones market.

“With a use case centering on frictionless access to Siri and other tasks initiated by voice, AirPods really act as an extension of the iPhone. Apple’s path to leadership in the category is helped by disruptive pricing, brand resonance, and excitement over the W1 chip, which significantly eases Bluetooth connections to iOS and Mac devices,” the NPD report stated.

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Photo: Apple

The report also mentioned that north of 900,000 ‘totally wireless’ headphones have been sold in the US in 2017. By these estimates, Apple has sold 765 million AirPods since the beginning of 2017.

Totally wireless earphones — which are a subset of Wireless Bluetooth earphones — are different as the two earpieces aren’t connected via a cable as opposed to several wireless earphones which have a cable to connect the two earpieces. The development in Bluetooth tech has made this new subset come to life.

AirPods Might Propel the Digital Assistant Revolution

“Consumer reception of wireless earbuds is still forming, even as their use case continues to evolve. As Alexa skills and other voice-first content diversifies, headphones, including totally wireless earbuds, are the leading candidate to be the next piece of hardware to drive digital assistant adoption,” the report adds.

It’s not only those who own an iPhone 7 that have warmed up to Apple’s wireless AirPods, but also previous generation iPhone users.

The AirPods were installed with Apple’s W1 chip, which works on low-power — giving additional battery life — and is already powering several variants of Beats wireless headphones.

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.