Apple AirPods account for stunning 85% of 2017 wireless headset sales

NPD: Americans have purchased 900,000 wireless headsets so far this year

Apple AirPods dominate a report posted Thursday by NPD analyst Ben Arnold:

Totally wireless earbuds represent a new segment that has come out of the emergence of Bluetooth. Bragi and Doppler Labs were among the first companies making totally wireless earbuds, but the entrance of tech titans like Apple and Samsung (but mostly Apple) has led to a spike in unit sales in the segment. More than 900,000 totally wireless headphone units were sold in the U.S. since the start of the year, according to The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service…

Some products have a loftier goal – making the wireless earbud a computing device for the ear. Since launching in December, Apple’s AirPods have accounted for 85 percent of totally wireless headphone dollar sales in the U.S., according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service. 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.

My take: “Disruptive pricing” is a phrase not typically associated with Apple. But see At $159, Apple made AirPods too cheap

TO BE CLEAR: Apple did not sell 85% of 900,000 wireless headsets sold in the U.S. since January. It collected 85% of the dollars spent on those 900,000 wireless headsets.


  1. Gianfranco Pedron said:
    Another late to market, commercial flop for Apple. Only reason they sold so many is that people keep losing them because they fall out 😮

    Why does Apple even bother coming out with new stuff any more? 😉

    Way to go, Apple …. way to go.

    September 1, 2017
    • John Kirk said:
      The criticism Apple received on the earpieces — before anyone had tried them — was worse even than usual. Steve Jobs said (and others have said) that it’s not the customer’s job to innovate. There are at least two reasons for this. First, the customer doesn’t have access to all of the information that an expert does. Second, human beings are simply not good at judging things that they haven’t seen/used. This is coupled with a perverse belief that we can PERFECTLY judge things we haven’t seen/used.

      Oh well. It’s human nature. And therefore, such unjust criticism is never going to end.

      September 1, 2017
      • Ken Cheng said:
        “human beings are simply not good at judging things that they haven’t seen/used. This is coupled with a perverse belief that we can PERFECTLY judge things we haven’t seen/used.”

        What I find interesting is that people who have been repeatedly wrong before, continue to believe they have perfect judgement. Apple pundits are classic examples of this phenomena.

        September 1, 2017
      • Gianfranco Pedron said:
        Unfortunately, Apple is about to release several new products and in the process unleash a torrent of pundit spittle and moaning, despite the fact that those products will go on to generate revenue that would eclipse the GDP of several nations.

        … and that doesn’t even include the HomePod, but at least we still have a few months to prepare for that storm.

        September 1, 2017
  2. John Kirk said:
    I don’t think Apple made AirPods too cheap, primarily because they’re almost a requirement now that the audio jack has been removed. Apple doesn’t do this, but I wouldn’t mind if they bundled things such as AirPods with their phones.

    As I was reading this, I got to thinking of the markets that Apple did and didn’t dominate. The Apple II was one of many during a time of computing transition. The Macintosh, is still a minority player, but its overall numbers are improving year by year which is, in itself, all things considered, shocking. People forget that Apple — the high priced, premium provider — DOMINATED MP3 players. They only own about 15% of the smartphone market, but they hold something like 90 to 95% of the premium portion of that market. Apple also dominates tablets. And they dominate smart watches. And they dominate wireless earpieces. And after September 12, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were on their way to dominating another segment of the market.

    It’s interesting that those who dis Apple don’t notice how Apple dominates almost every market they enter — with the obvious exception of Apple TV, and probably some other things that I’m forgetting.

    Dominating Phones, tablets, watches and wireless speakers. Hmm. That sounds like a pretty good place to be.

    September 1, 2017

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