Apple’s AirPods wireless in-ear headphones currently account for almost 85% of the “totally wireless headphone” (as measured by dollars), subcategory in the U.S. headphone market.
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.
Through July, U.S. dollar sales and average prices increased 22 percent, and 18 percent, respectively, over the same period a year ago, driven in part by the success of Apple’s AirPods.
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.
Apple’s $159 AirPods have technically been available since December 2016, but have only recently been widely available for sale with less than a six week wait for delivery. The completely wireless earbuds pair automatically with Apple’s iPhone via an exclusive W1 wireless chip, and offer up to five hours of listening on a single charge.