Piper Sandler: 72% of US teens own AirPods

87% own iPhones, 87% plan to buy one, 30% own an Apple Watch.

From a note to clients by Harsh Kumar that landed on my desktop Wednesday:

Apple's share of smartphone ownership remains near record highs in Piper Sandler's Taking Stock with Teens Spring 2022 survey (here). Of the ~7,100 respondents, 87% have an iPhone, which is slightly below the 88% record set in the Spring 2021 survey. In addition, the iPhone could return to record highs due to the 87% purchase intention among teens. We note over 23% of teens plan to upgrade to an iPhone 13 this spring/summer. Apple's other hardware metrics also showed strong results, with more than 30% already owning an Apple Watch and 72% owning AirPods. Overall, we view the survey results as a sign that Apple's place as the dominant device brand among teens remains well intact.

    • 87% of teens in the Spring 2022 survey own an iPhone, a near record metric 87% of teens expect an iPhone to be their next phone, also near a record
    • Over 23% of teens expect to upgrade to an iPhone 13 this spring/summer. This is slightly ahead of the 22% that expected to upgrade in the fall/winter
    • iPhone 13 ownership represented ~18% in the Spring 2022 survey, a strong first mark This is well ahead of the ~12% the iPhone 12 saw in the Spring 2021 survey
    • A record 30% of teens own an Apple Watch in the Spring 2022 survey Apple also has 83% market share among teen smartwatch owners
    • 72% of teens own AirPods in the Spring 2022 survey, an all-time record 9% of teens plan to buy AirPods within the next 12 months
    • 31% of teens use a fitness app as a part of their workout regimen
    • 41% of teens are using or are interested in using iCloud+ Private Relay

Maintains Overweight rating and $200 target. 

Cue the AirPod bar chart:

My take: These are, for the most part, well-heeled teens. The average household income in the survey sample was ~$69,300 of which upper-income responses (28% of responses) represented households averaging $104,200. Still, the outbreak of white earbuds among the young is approaching pandemic levels.


  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. My take: These are, for the most part, well-heeled teens.”

    Some observations. Unless families have changed, I question how accurately teenagers know their family incomes. Little doubt they may discern to a logical degree where their family falls in their country’s economic class system. Something tells me that this survey deals with the American economic class system only, and not economic class systems from other countries.

    Based on Pew Research’s data for the US & adjusted for inflation as of the beginning of this year low income is less than $52,200, middle income is $52,200 – $156,600 and above $156,600 is upper income. So, the typical Apple consumer comes from the middle to upper economic class; as all of us would have expected.

    Air Pods truly are luxury devices from the start, inessential and viewed instead as indulgence and to a degree, opulence. If one is in the lower economic class of any nation, then one is concern more with clothing and feeding their children more so then giving them Air Pods that requires another ancillary device for tethering.

    I believe when it comes to discussing Air Pods that we always can say teens who wear these devices come from the higher economic classes of their respective societies.

    April 6, 2022
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Jerry: You make some very good points. 39% of the teens surveyed report having a part-time job and there’s a lot in the report on choices and preferences. Here in Southern California one of the big post-pandemic activities is parents taking their kids to Disneyland which is a hugely expensive endeavor. Regardless of economic strata, consumers will be commit to purchases they see as priorities. While I personally can’t imagine a 72% adoption rate of AirPods for all teens, 2nd generation AirPods are available from Apple for $129. In my experiences with teens today, they are definitely immersed in their digital lifestyles. What teens and young adults are willing to pay, for example, for game consoles and gaming enhancements for PCs is absolutely mind blowing. My point is, purchase priorities aren’t always economically rational choices.

      April 6, 2022
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Robert Paul Leitao: “…. My point is, purchase priorities aren’t always economically rational choices.”

        It is and would be for you brother Robert Paul if you & your family had to live on less than $52,200 annually.

        April 6, 2022
        • Robert Paul Leitao said:
          Jerry: That’s not what I see everyday here in the Southland. I’m involved with many people who live paycheck to paycheck and their spending priorities can cause a lot of pain and a lot of problems, especially among those underserved by banks and often involved in the informal economy.

          April 6, 2022
  2. Daniel Epstein said:
    One of the interesting things to think about is how spending habits change over time based on product innovation. When I was a teenager I made a fair amount of purchases that would be done differently today due to technology. For instance I remember buying albums for my record collection, Cassette tape recorder players and also buying tickets to attend concerts etc. I am pretty sure today I would persuade my family to have a family music plan and taking some money to buy portable headphones like AirPods seems like a logical choice. The overall cost today is probably less than the inflation adjusted cost of the past and much more flexible. And yes I do miss the Album cover art and liner notes so it is not completely an improvement. Apple is one of the prime beneficiaries of this.

    April 6, 2022
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Daniel: With an Apple Music subscription I’m spending more per annum now that years ago on music. With an Apple One subscription I can share Apple Music with up to five other family members so total spending on music for family members on music has likely decreased. Beyond the consideration of cost, the ability to access music of my choosing from just about anywhere in the world at anytime is certainly a “paradigm shift” from just a couple decades ago. I frequently have Apple Music on at work. Good music provides a nice “rhythm” when grinding through mind-numbing accounting work in volume. I don’t particularly like accounting, I just happen to be good at it. Apple Music is good “therapy.”

      April 6, 2022
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Despite the sample bias, it still shows the right trend, i.e., % owning/intending by those who can afford. The same concept holds for iPhone market share globally.

    Apple product are not elitist. Nor are they for the unfortunate ones.

    April 6, 2022
  4. John Konopka said:
    $130 sounds like a lot to me because I am old. Using an inflation calculator, that comes out to about $15 when I was in high school. That would have not been difficult money for me to obtain back then.

    Now I see signs saying baristas at Peet’s Coffee get just under $20 and hour with tips so a pair of AirPods would cost about a day’s wages, same as when I was in high school.

    Even at $10 an hour working half time it would take just over a month to get enough for a new iPhone, less for a refurbished one.

    I have one pet peeve about articles like this comparing 87% vs 88% in a survey. I’m sure the st dev on those numbers is much more than one percent. Grrrrr.

    April 6, 2022
  5. Jerry Doyle said:
    @Robert Paul Leitao: We obviously live in different geographical regions, then again California can be an enigma to other parts of the country.

    The median income for a household in my area is $22,528. The median income for a family was $27,206. Males had a median income of $26,181 versus $18,427 for females.

    The per capita income for the area is listed as $12,608. About 22.60% of families and 28.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.80% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.

    The per capita personal income for the state is $30,952 in 2014, its residents per capita income decreased to $28,662 in 2019. The median household income was $51,073.

    My point in the presentation of facts above is to show what I see in real time matches what I wrote above. I just do not see kids from families in many geographies (not just my state) making less than $52,200 annually, running around with AirPods in their ears.

    Too often folk residing in megalopolises think everyone else in the nation live as they. Outside large metropolitans the rest of the nation has no Starbucks on every corner. Many teens from families making less than $52,200 annually don’t even know what is a Barista.

    Teens in these areas don’t work for tips as bussers, wait staffs, host/hostesses because there are not the plethora of restaurants on every corner one sees in a megalopolis. The nearest Apple store is over a hundred miles away. There are not that many retail establishments, malls and service centers for teen employment as one has in large metropolitan areas. Even in the metro areas such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge one still does not see kids from families making $52,200 and under running around with AirPods. These families also live paycheck to paycheck but it is predicated on not having sufficient income; not on spending beyond their means up-to-their-eyeballs in debt.

    April 6, 2022
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:
      Jerry: All good points. I seriously doubt 72% of US teens are walking around with AirPods. Even in a digitally intense area where I work which is surrounded by film studios, post-production facilities and much of the population employed in various aspects of the entertainment industry, there’s no way the penetration level among teens is near that number. iPhones? Yes. Apple Watch? Very common. Air Pods? Common but not anywhere near that level of uptake.

      April 7, 2022

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