WSJ: AirPods are hot, but Consumer Reports says…

Apple, according to the Wall Street Journal, will have to “fight hard for every sale.” Really?

From Dan Gallagher’s “Apple Needs to Keep Accessorizing” ($) in Monday’s paper:

Inconveniently for Apple Inc., its new iPhones are coming just as everything not named iPhone is doing great.

Sales of Mac computers, iPads and wearable products such as the Apple Watch and AirPods have all notched gains in the first nine months of Apple’s current fiscal year, which ends later this month. Accessories like the AirPods have been especially hot, with Apple crediting “phenomenal demand” for the wireless earbuds in its most recent results…

And now, for Gallagher head-snapping conclusion:

In fact, Apple now faces tougher competition across all of its categories. The Mac, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV must all contend with rival devices from companies who have learned to take a page from Apple’s formidable design chops. The company is still right to lessen its dependence on the iPhone. But it will fight hard for every sale.

How does Gallagher get from point A to point B? Through Consumer Reports. Gallagher penultimate paragraph:

AirPods, meanwhile, are still hot—even three years after their initial launch. [Toni] Sacconaghi estimates that Apple is now close to selling about 10 million units each quarter, which is more than even the iPod managed at the same stage of life. But AirPods also face mounting competition from other wireless buds. Consumer Reports even recently picked Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds as “the clear winner” in the category the AirPods once owned.

My take: Amazing how useful a thumbs-down from Consumer Reports can be to a writer trying to turn a corner and get to his kicker. I finally got around to reading CS’ famous earbud face-off this morning. I’m old enough to have once subscribed to Consumer Reports magazine, and having made purchase decisions based on its recommendations. I’m also old enough to remember when Consumer Reports advised readers not to buy the iPhone 4, Apple’s best-selling phone to that date. Business Insider called it a “brilliant PR move,” one Consumer Reports hasn’t forgotten.


  1. David Emery said:
    A couple years ago I was researching Microwaves. The model that got Consumer Reports top rating also had a disturbing number of reviews on Amazon “this device caught fire in my house.”

    ‘Your Mileage May Vary’.

    September 9, 2019
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    The last time I bought something based on a CR “Best Buy” recommendation was in 1999. It was a side-by-side refrigerator that turned out to be a piece of crap. Haven’t subscribed since.

    When we moved in 2006 we left the refrigerator behind.

    September 9, 2019
  3. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Why make it a “contest” concerning sound? Let’s talk convenience and utility — with sound as the kicker.

    (BTW — As a result of lagging subscriptions and rack sales CR has resorted to titillating headline-baiting to gain attention along with overhauling the magazine’s layout and presentation intending to catch a newer audience. While still polished at the science end of comprehensive product reviews, they’ve always been a bit weak in comprehending design, form and aesthetics. I too used to subscribe.)

    The AirPods easy-peasy form and function, petite “not there” size/weight along with the classic “it just works” mojo has everything to do with AirPods being the success they are and continue to be.

    Yet I’ve always maintained from the beginning that the AirPods sound is extremely and uncannily accurate for a radio transmission based tiny audio device. I firmly believe that it’s this accuracy that attaches people to the product well beyond its convenience factors.
    It’s at an emotional level.

    An entire generation or two has grown up not actually realizing what accurate sound is. Not because of things going from analog to digital but moreover because of it going mobile and the sound output coming from somewhat mediocre to barely OK headphones. Only if you plowed serious money into good headphones would the beautiful trueness of sound leap out. Along with this quality would also be the need for better amplification.

    Strong, clean amplification coupled with accurate and capable speakers is where the good stuff is found.

    Probably very few people avail themselves of the full and complete sound that you can achieve with the AirPods. I suggest this — Sit in a quiet place; place the AirPods snugly in the well of your ears; put on your most familiar and highest quality playback (try something with acoustic instruments) and listen down INTO the music for all the nuance of all the sound. It’s there. It’s nailed down. It has presence…and it’s accurate.

    Couple the easy-peasy with the accuracy and dependability, you’re left with a wonderful audio experience.

    Or forget the quiet room and just run around your world still hearing your playback and interacting with everyone around you.

    No need to have a contest. Simply enjoy the convenience and accuracy. It’s all there.

    September 9, 2019

Leave a Reply