AirPods are gobbling up the totally wireless earphone market

At least 85 cents of every dollar spent on fully wireless headphones goes to Apple, according to NPD.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein
2 min read

AirPods are still doing great a year later, it seems. Could new ones be on the horizon?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Everyone laughed at AirPods when they were announced a year ago. Now, consumers are buying them faster than Apple can make them.

While Apple doesn't provide specific sales data, the latest report from NPD analyst Ben Arnold says that AirPods are leading the category of totally-wireless earphones by a huge margin. Specifically, 85 cents of every dollar spent so far this year on the category in the US has gone straight to Apple, according to NPD. 

Keep in mind, "totally wireless" -- earphones that have two independently wireless earbuds with no connecting cable -- is a new subset of the overall universe of wireless Bluetooth headphones. But NPD estimates that 900,000 totally wireless earphones have been sold so far this year. Even though NPD's percentage refers to dollars spent, not units shipped or sold, it means that Apple is leaving rivals like Samsung, Bragi, Jabra and Sol Republic in the dust.  

And that's with AirPods usually being hard to find: Apple just shrunk the backorder time from six weeks to four. NPD's Arnold told CNET that he thinks AirPods could "easily have hit the 90 percent range" with full availability.

Apple does not break AirPod sales out in its earning reports, and the company did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

According to Arnold, the wireless headphone market now accounts for 65 to percent of all US headphone sales, and while many wireless headphones are less expensive than AirPods, the average overall price of headphones has increased since a move to wireless.

With AirPods selling this well, the bigger question may be whether or not we a new model introduced at the company's September 12 event, or sometime in the next year.

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