> Assuming an even split of sales between Gen 1, Gen 2, and AirPods Pro, Airpods revenue was $12 billion in 2019
This itself is a terrible assumption. AirPods Pro launched in November 2019, so had just 2 months of sales. Even otherwise, there is never an even split between the lower and higher priced versions of any product, especially when the higher one costs nearly double.
Another source (https://hypebeast.com/2019/12/apple-airpods-stats-third-larg...) estimates the sales at $6 billion, half of what the parent article says.
Not only were they unofficial, the guess work was wrong. And even the facts were wrong. What annoys me is the blog is actually for investment. ( With Email Newsletter suggesting sign up for insight )
>Since 2017, Apple has sold roughly 215 million iPhones per year. These phones cost roughly $1,000 each, and therefore generate $215 billion of revenue for Apple each year. This makes up 81% of Apple’s total revenue
There is no need to guess. Apple actually report ASP when they were reporting Sales Unit Number. In 2017 their iPhone ASP were 618 - 697 depending on Quarter. In 2018 their iPhone ASP were 728 - 793. They stopped reporting unit and ASP in 2019.
Apple Fiscal 2017, 2018, 2019 Revenue was $229.234B, $265.595B, $259.97B And iPhone Revenue was $141.29 , $166.8B, iPhone % of revenue was ~62% to of their revenue.
The blog post could have been so much better if he spend 10min actually looking up those number.
> That means almost all iPhone users are still either using wired earphones or none at all.
I'm sorry, what? Non-Apple branded Bluetooth earphones (including AirPod knockoffs) are ubiquitous, and far outnumber wired earphones (in part thanks to Apple and many Android OEMs dropping headset jacks).
That only happened on high-end smartphones. Low-end and mid-range still have 3.5 mm socket.
(Also, I actually look around regularly at the train station, and I still see mostly wired headsets. I'm using a wireless one, btw.)
I see the occasional default Apple headphones, but the vast majority of people are using Airpod-alikes.
This does not match my experience at all, but SE Asia is a diverse place.
Go to a random rural town in a midwestern US state and I'm sure you probably won't see people wearing Airpods, which is probably what people are picturing when someone says SE Asia.
We have paved roads believe it or not, as well as a large class of people who use the newest iPhones.
Which means that almost everyone still uses wired phones.
You see a lot of AirPods (I was gifted a set myself) but you see even more wireless over-ear headphones. I probably notice those the most. And wired are still common, though not necessarily 3.5mm.
* I know, not representative of the general population, and USA-centric, but the A list tends to be representative of what people want and, if they can afford it, what they have.
1 - https://www.hbo.com/the-defiant-ones
What do you mean by not necessarily 3.5mm?
Do you mean they are ubiquitous with people using iPhones? Because here is Australia I would guesstimate that 80% of in-ear wireless earphone used with Apple devices are AirPods.
I think probably 50% of people I know who've bought an iPhone in the last year have bought AirPods at the same time (if they didn't already have them).
Over/On ear headphone are a different story, as is Android.
Maybe in new sales, but not in deployed use.
I’ll buy a quality headset or in-ear and it might last me a decade.
When you think about it, the new usage (wireless = no wires at all) is more accurate than the old (wired, but not connected the the phone itself by wires)
Every headset has some amount of wiring.
Yet half of HN has a fit anytime the word “Serverless” is uttered.
Understanding that may not be wider usage, I feel there exists a need (or at least benefit) for two words - something which is good/intended for listening, and something which is good/intended for conversing.
As I'm currently in operations, vast majority of my team spends 4+++ hrs a day on calls and conference calls. We'll take a $20 3.5mm Logitech with a boom over a $100 bluetooth with a boom over $200 bluetooth without a boom in a heart beat. Anybody with airpods [or Samsung etc equivalents] has been taken out to the back alley and shot by now.
- If one random sales estimate is $6 billion and the other is $12 billion, it is clear that there isn't enough information out there, or something else is amiss. This isn't just a margin of error difference, and would completely change the graph in the parent article.
- There is nothing useful to be taken away from comparing its sales numbers against a bunch of SaaS companies. Here's a better idea - put it on a graph along with sales of Echo, Fire TV, Philips Hue, Chromecast, Roku, Ring, Tile, Duracell AA Battery, GoPro etc.
Which still isn't a useful comparison.
One is an outright purchase, and the other a subscription service.
Spotify has been around since 2006 and just eked out a tiny profit last year. Unless they plan on owning music themselves, I don’t see why the music owners wouldn’t try to capture most of the profit.
...at which point it's reasonable to maybe stop conflating price with value.
Audiophiles buy music to listen to their stereo/audio equipment.
Very few audiophiles are sitting at their desk using Airpods, though. In that market, wired headphones rule supreme. (Many people are using wireless noise-cancelling headphones, however, not for audio quality but because "work" is too loud for people to work. At my last job, they even had Sonos speakers around playing music all day. It was crazy!)
2) There is one interesting thing. Everyone would say "make software" because it is easily scalable and you want scalable business. You don't want to make physical things, because making business on physical things is not scalable. Now Apple is showing that making physical things makes loads of money if you are Apple. So still making physical things can make more money than making SaaS.
- a chip design/fabrication team
- a battery design team
- procurement specialists and high-volume vendor contracts in Asia, with assembly lines ready to go at moment's notice
- a logistics, operations and distribution pipeline in every market in the world
- the most successful product in the world (iPhone) which you can attach your sales to
- billions in marketing and advertising budgets
- premium retail locations across the world
AirPods are NOT a startup, and should not be compared to other startups. "Make software" is definitely still good advice for the vast majority of entrepreneurs out there.
You will not believe how low key was that project. It could've easily been a design from an average if not a lower tier OEM.
All competitors have to cope with interface limitations and API inadequacies. Even one extra obligatory UI step can practically ruin the experience (as compared to AirPods).
Getting to the point where deep integration is easy ... is hard.
Am college student, have not heard of this yet.
It’s a luxury brand group, but has price points that go from attainable to stratospheric.
If I had to pick one label, I would choose Burberry (fitting, since Apple went on a Burberry hiring spree a number of years ago, and not just for retail but in design) or Marc Jacobs (which is part of LVMH).
We know that Roku doesn’t make much of anything from hardware sells - the CEO said they aren’t trying to make a profit from the hardware, but ad sales and subscription revenue.
... then it still sounds like they are making billions of dollars on mere headphones. Fascinating.
Besides there are plenty of almost as good knock offs st half the price.
Even 25% of those numbers gets us to really impressive revenue numbers.
Additionally the author's conclusion that although Airpod revenue is relatively good for a technology company, it's small compared to Apple's total revenue and as compared to the future value of services revenue this hardware enables.
If we were to consider that, the comparison is guaranteed to be dramatically worse (in the favor of Apple).
Shopify, Snapchat and Spotify have yet to earn a single net dollar in profit. They're all still losing money as of their most recent quarters. And their lifetime losses are epic to say the least. Twitter also may still be negative for its lifetime, given its very substantial past losses.
If Apple has even modest 10% margins on the Airpods (it's more likely to be 2x to 3x that), it's at least a billion a year in profit right now. That's probably more than Spotify could earn on its zero margin business even if you gave them $20 billion in sales.
The reality is, Apple (either through the Apple brand or through Beats), was the only electronics company that could realistically achieve the economies of scale to sell truly wireless earbuds at this MSRP in 2016, but that doesn’t mean the margins don’t get bigger every single month. It’s true that the margins might be lower for another company, but audio is an insanely high margin industry. Even in retail, the markup between retailer cost and MSRP is often at least 50% — it Is often higher. And if you have the scale and supply chain to own literals every part and churn out a headset, it’s even higher.
And make no mistake about it - a huge portion of these sales are people buying Apple's marketing - not buying the tech itself.
Which I think may bode well for Apple in that we are only scratching the surface of what the tech can do.
The iPod was better than any competitor it faced ever. The UI with the click wheel was completely unmatched. Maybe the Zune, years later, came close, but Apple absolutely crushed it with the iPhone and iPod touch.
The iPhone was leaps and bounds ahead of its time, to the point that the then King of the hill, BlackBerry, didn’t even think it was possible. And the smoothness of the UI was completely unmatched. The pocketPCs of the time were clunky messes. The iPhone’s UI was so far ahead that it’s now the default UI for every phone.
And finally, the AirPods are a far superior experience than the alternatives. In addition though, the AirPods are extremely competitively priced.
The same is true of the iPod and of the iPhone. To me, that doesn’t diminish from the fact that those are/were best-in-class products, but the ubiquity is absolutely based on fashion.
The same is true of the Apple Watch. Of course the irony here is the Apple Watch was very much marketed as a fashion accessory first. That didn’t work. When the messaging pivoted to health and those capabilities got better then the completion (and there is no Android Apple Watch competition. Fitbit is the closest.), adoption spiked. But again, there is a still a very strong fashion component, even tho that isn’t a large part of the marketing anymore (the attempts to target luxury fashionistas have shifted and that has IMHO made for a better product all around). You don’t get a smart watch. You get an Apple Watch.
Au contraire, that was _vital_ to shifting the public discussion. Right at the beginning, public sentiment was "what? >$400 for a watch? are you crazy?" To stifle that thinking, Apple brilliantly went for the fashion accessory approach and announced the absurdly high-end Watch Edition at >$10,000 ... suddenly discussion went from "$400 is too much" to "$10,000 is absurd, but I can do $400."
Once the Overton Window for watches was shifted away from "vs $5 cheap watch" to ">$400 is reasonable", then Apple could shift the discussion to "...and look at all these other things you get besides time!"
They couldn't get to "...and health" until they got to "...reasonable price." Having achieved both, people buy an Apple Watch for all occasions, because ... well ... it's what sensible tech-connected people do.
Offering a handful of $10,000 Watch Edition probably segued into $1B in profits from associating the product line with high fashion. Nobody is ashamed to wear an Apple Watch with a 5-digit suit.
If not, I recommend you testing out this specific scenario. For a lot of the ones I tested, it becomes an exercise in patience and frustration. There were even some that refused to pair with more than one device at a time at all, meaning that every time you switch a device, you have to do the whole pairing process again. And that wasn't 10 years ago, i tested this less than 2 years ago.
And even the whole pairing process is annoying. Best case scenario, you can just pair them using the standard bluetooth settings on your phone. Worst case, you have to deal with some custom app (that you have to install on your phone) and do the steps from there (looking at you, Sony; I love your WH-1000XM over the head line of headphones, but ffs this is just bad UX). Contrast it with AirPods, where you just need to open the case and put them close to your iPhone. You do it once and then completely forget about having to do this ever again.
P.S. if your other device is an Apple one as well, it gets even more seamless. You don't need to pair it in that case, you just switch the audio output device on your macbook from speakers to airpods, which are already present on the list of audio devices (as long as you paired it with another apple device of yours first).
Could not agree more. I love the WH-1000XM3s (and loved the XM2s before that), but the UX on this stuff is just so frustrating.
Talking about seamless, the 3.5mm jack is far more seamless and robust to me. I wonder how long before they seal that hole on the only apple product (of the ones I use) that has it yet ... the macbook.
I don't believe Airpods would be any better in that scenario.
A huge percentage of our species gladly trade money for, objectively speaking, very minor improvements in convenience or experience. Apple has been taking this fact to the bank for 30 years. You may not have the same preferences, but you're probably in the minority. FWIW.
Only a second if your kids don’t have it, or you didn’t leave it at home, or...
With AirPods, one does not need track down the other device.
I'm philosophically aligned with Linux but not with Android.
I've tried both Windows and Mac, I just like Ubuntu better.
I believe there are higher end non Apple devices that have solved this.
I’m glad it’s worked well for you, though. I figured someone must being a good experience with it.
I'm wearing a pair I bought over a year ago, and using multiple devices at the same time is as easy as just turning them on.
The way it's been done for decades.
I dont think it's fashion so much as not looking stupid. Airpods aren't cool, they just don't look bad.
>The biggest downside? Their sound is just OK. AirPods produce a perfectly average sound that's clear in the mid-tones and is good for podcasts but doesn't pack much in the low end. And because of their open design, sound isolation is terrible. There's also no noise cancellation, so you'll be stuck hearing traffic or crowds around you. The Jabra Elite 65Ts produce much better sound at about the same price. Even budget alternatives like the $80 Anker Soundcore earbuds offer just-as-good sound for half the price.
I've read pretty much the same take from most reviewers I've looked at. It matches quality on cheaper models, and is outpaced by competitors in the same price range.
- form factor (my powerbeats pro case is huge compared to airpods)
- handoff between different Apple devices
- BT reliability/connection strength (mostly down to BT 4 vs 5)
- fit and finish
- noise cancellation
People weigh all of these things differently to arrive at what is "best". If a broad range of wireless buds all meet someone's threshold for acceptable audio quality, the other factors will be deciding.
3 years ago, they were the first seamlessly and reliably working product to free me of the cabled ear buds mess.
Were there other bluetooth ear buds before? Yes. Were they complete and utter shit to use? Also yes.
Now, 3 years later, a few competitors arise and some are better in some ways than AirPods - but again none are better than AirPods Pro. Active noise cancellation always has a markup of around $100 no matter the brand or product. So still, these AirPods Pro are fairly priced in my opinion (AirPods + $100).
You have to actively hate on Apple for even claiming any bluetooth in-ear buds are better than AirPods Pro as of today.
Samsung etc. caught on to AirPods after 3 years - but certainly not to AirPods Pro.
Or, one might say, Apple's product is the only satisfactory product on the market. It could certainly be better; along some axes, it's strictly worse than its competitors. But along a crucial axis, it meets a minimum standard of quality—not hurting my ears—that nothing else does. Sort of like modern VR products were "better" in that they finally met the minimum standard of quality of "not making me throw up."
(You can tell that Apple is thinking specifically about this problem when nobody else is, because when they decided to add a conformant seal to the AirPods Pro, they then spent who-knows-how-much figuring out a way to actively pump air out of the ear canal to relieve the pressure imbalance you create when you shove the 'bud in there. I haven't tried those, but I'm pretty sure, from the description of the pressure-equalization tech they employ, that they wouldn't hurt my ears either.)
It's a simple vent, no pump, active or otherwise. My B&O's have not quite the same, but a flange in the silicon to achieve the same effect.
Apple charges an extra $40 for the wireless charging case - airpods are $159, Airpods with wireless charging case are $199. Earfun earbuds are right now less than $40 total on Amazon, sold by the brand, and are better than Apple's offer at 199 as far as I'm concerned.
I bought an iPod Classic later on (with 160 GB) to experience the genius usability of the iPod. Except, I didn't experience it.
The major innovation of the iPhone was that it had a capacitive touch UI (which allows finger use, gestures, etc). The iPhone did not have an App Store during release. It was missing a lot of features. It was Nokia who was the market leader around that point. I wish they fully bet on Maemo and capacitive touch instead of Windows Phone (they went the right way with the N9, but the predecessors were still too much on pen and resistive touch, or hybrid).
Right now, it is oddly enough Jolla who have a partly proprietary, partly FOSS, Linux-based OS (SFOS) for which you need a paid license for. After that, they won't track you though. The iPhone would've never sustained a big pie of the smartphone market though; it is Android which killed Nokia. Official SFOS has Android emulation.
Same with the iPhone. The major innovation of the iPhone was that it was simple to use and anyone could pick it up and use it without knowing anything about it.
I wouldn't say that's accurate. Like the iPod before it, the iPhone relied on experimentation and peer demonstration for UI comprehension. It wasn't discoverable.
My single instance of using an iPhone resulted in total failure in determining how to switch between two running apps. I kept ending up on the home screen and having to click the app's icon again.
Apples clever hack around that was to let customers get hands-on with the devices before purchase in controlled Apple Store environments where they could be nudged into thinking that they had mastered the UI themselves.
Except this was exactly how the original iPhone handled app-switching. It was only by getting people used to that paradigm that modern smartphones were even able to introduce mobile multi-tasking. At the time of the iPhone's release, Blackberry was king and switching apps was a matter of hitting the "Back" button over and over again until you got back to the main menu of the Blackberry OS. On some models, you could click on a scroll wheel/ball and click "Go back to App Launcher" (or something similar). Precisely what the iPhone did was give people a home button.
Ever since Web 2.0 it was clear to me that a touch-based UI would win if you used a web browser; it was Apple's capacitive touch UI which was the killer feature. Nobody had such even though Mozilla was experimenting already with a mobile browser (Fennec). (For some use-cases, a keyboard is still desirable though. E.g. a Pebble during sports is better usable than a touch-based smartwatch.)
You don't need to know what Ogg Vorbis is; I knew because I ripped my CDs to Ogg Vorbis. I already paid for these. It allowed me to save even more space compared to MP3 and AAC.
None of these things, in any way, take away from how simple the first iPhone was to use. Once again, you missed the point completely.
The only thing that came close to the usability and reliability of an iPhone in 2007 was the Blackberry.
FWIW, I never used the original iPhone for a long period of time, but I did use the iPod Touch, and I did have usability issues with it (not in hindsight). Something simple as blocking ads, for example, it could not do without jailbreaking. I call that a design issue. That Google does such, is to be expected as it is their main source of income. Apple? Not so much. Multitasking was also something to forget about.
Unless you have some kind of argument that actually addresses the premise that the iPhone was successful because it was the easiest smartphone on the market to use and had high discoverability, you're going to keep missing the point by responding with features that you wish it had when it launched.
The only major innovation the iPhone was using, was a capacitive touch UI. iOS wasn't polished, as it lacked many basic features. Yet the UI was good enough and simple to use. Nothing I wrote here above is in contradiction with each other. The only thing you appear to disagree on is the importance of these missing features. If they had these features from the beginning, perhaps Apple would've released too late, and the market would be saturated already (as touchscreen devices were coming to the masses regardless).
You are describing missing functionality, but you are not refuting the claim of iPhone's simplicity of use.
There were plenty of things the iPhone couldn't do. Among these that it could, the experience was years ahead of the competition.
I already addressed that in my first post in this subthread:
Apple spent around 40-50m on the initial rollout, a sum completely unheard of in the industry. And they bested themselves every iphone release since.
Even today, closest contenders are far from that mark.
HTC may have had a touch UI, but they didn’t have a capacitive touch screen (did the XDA use a stylus? I’d wager it did).
More importantly, Apple was the only company willing to:
* commit all their resources to a single UI and single phone
* write their own operating system for said phone to have control over its fate and optimize for that UI
* offer a sales experience where people could discover the phone, see how it worked, and get expert help, with sales people who actually knew about the phone and weren’t offering users the choice of three dozen competitors at the same time
This "Apple is only good at marketing" idea is vastly off the mark.
The camera on a $1000 iPhone is not good enough? For what? For whom? The cameras on mid range smartphones are amazing, these days. A $150 China phone or $250 West phone is great these days. It is basically adequate for a whole lot of use cases, including normal day to day usage.
Also, smartphones with multiple cameras are, in a way, unrealistic. There's quite some lack of realism in today's cameras, akin to autotune.
It is also not possible to take an objectively great photo. Everyone has different biases, interests, quality thresholds, etc. See e.g.  for a (result of a) blind test.
> [...] Phone cameras are important.
Your preferences != other people's preferences.
The former is subjective, as for the latter - what's the competition to which they are favourably priced?
How come we have such high expectations for argument quality for every other topic other than how "apple is better" - it has reached the point where I read it and I almost jump to astroturfing conclusions. Fortunately for Apple their fans are dedicated enough to astroturf for free!
They certainly connect easier and more reliably than my over-ears, bought around the same time (flagship Sony noise cancelling ones). As for the price, as Wikipedia documents and many others have mentioned, they were priced lower than most other truly wireless earbuds when they launched. Since then the field has grown more competitive, which is good for the consumer.
As well any Apple main product this day in my opinion. Good and decent products, but severely overpriced. Nothing close to as revolutionary as they were in the early days. Look at functions in new models of iPhones or hardware upgrades in Macs, they are not new or exciting. These days they are so much alternatives, it's a wonder to me why Apple is still so popular. It has to be a fashion or prestige feeling in my opinion. And it's only a matter of time before that dies out in my opinion.
When it comes to multitasking, the WebOS card metaphor won out and even came to iOS.
WebOS is now a smart TV OS
I preferred the Creative Zen Touch to the iPod from the same year (2004), because:
- it had a great UI (similar to the iPod's, but the scroll area was vertical instead of circular)
- I could load music onto it easily (no need to use a special app)
IIRC Apple and Creative had some litigation about the IP for the UI, although I don't recall the details.
EDIT: I agree with your point about the iPhone.
Then I found that my airpods were under the couch and I immediately switched back.
Edit: added Windows clarification
Apple added on their own crippling DRM after that.
iRivers, Cowons, and Samsungs were a head above it without any doubt. They were just never marketed in US.
Same with Smartphones. Japanese phones had all features of a smartphone a decade before the rest of the world, but they never bothered to market them outside thinking of outside world being "not advanced enough" to culturally absorb a phone as an integral lifestyle element, and not as a work tool.
This forum thread from the 2001 release is pretty funny:
The Reality Distiortion Field turned out to be in this guy's head :)
Seriously, many technical people underestimate the power of "bringing X to the masses" by making a beautiful, easy polished, effortless UX. UX (usually) trumps functionality.
> iCan't believe it!
> It's now at the online Apple Store!
> $400 for an Mp3 Player!
>I'd call it the Cube 2.0 as it wont sell, and be killed off in a short time...and it's not really functional.
> Uuhh Steve, can I have a PDA now?"
A quote for the ages... :D
Growing up during the rise of the ipod, it absolutely was a status symbol first and foremost. Owning a zune gave you more ridicule in middle school than not owning an mp3 player at all. People were buying earpods without even buying an ipod, just to have that white cord dangling out of their ear.
Maybe older generations saw it as good tech only, but for late millenials, the ipod's popularity was due to an obsession for vanity. These were the years where everything had to be either lacoste, abercrombie, hollister, american eagle, or a 6 inch tall polo man, after all.
Part of the airpods success is that they tap into this obsession toward vanity harbored deep within millenials, who have also moved on from mall brands to gucci/balenciaga/supreme/insert bougie brand of the decade.
It was a status symbol for you and your teenage friends. Life expectancy is currently around 80 in the developed world and teenagers don't really have disposable income, so teenagers weren't really driving sales. Apple made cool commercials and cool colors because they could.
I actually bought different headphones because of that ad b/c I thought it was so stupid, but do go on.
By definition all of the businesses that survive are good at marketing - Apple has managed to drive extraordinary value through positioning and differentiation and left everyone else to compete over the collapsing middle market.
Sony’s precise problem was underinvesting on positioning and brand and relying on their technical advantage ... which proved a problem when everyone else caught up with the tech and they couldn’t repeat the trick with other devices.
People say marketing like it’s something to be ashamed of, and that Apple should deliberately hobble itself by being bad at it. It’s really critical.
Likewise, claiming that the Root Kit business (by which time the iPod had been around for a good 5 years) sunk Sony’s business seems like a bit of a reach.
Citation needed. Steve Jobs was incredibly anti-DRM and it was only added because the content owners wouldn't license the music to Apple without it. Once the iTunes Store exploded and became a primary sales channel, Apple renegotiated their licenses and required all media to be DRM-free because, at that point, they had the upper hand.
Around the end of 2006, the music industry was complaining that no other music store could compete with iTunes because the DRM wasn’t compatible. They wanted Apple to license FairPlay to competitors.
Apple refused and Jobs posted his famous “Thoughts on Music” letter on the front page of Apple’s website where he said that if the music industry wanted interoperability, they could license music to everyone DRM free and there would be interoperability. Especially since all physical music was already DRM free.
Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.”
There was some haggling back and forth about terms. The music industry wanted variable pricing, to be able to sell more music as a whole album and a cut of each iPhone sold. Apple refused all of their demands.
The other stores acquiesced and were able to sell DRM music before Apple. However EMI and some independent labels did agree from day one.
Two years later all of the music labels came to terms with Apple and allowed it to sell music directly on the phone over the cellular network.
They were the first company to crack the nut of digital music sales, and getting those deals with the recording industry absolutely required DRM at the time.
So the argument that Apple didn’t outcompete Sony on marketing rests on a marketing slogan from 20 years ago?
That slogan makes pretty clear to me what Apple’s priorities were and had been all along - put the customer’s needs at the forefront of their positioning.
I believe CD ripping software was relatively niche before that due to legal concerns. I don't think it was just marketing.
Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. The remaining 97% of the music is unprotected and playable on any player that can play the open formats.
Sony wanted to keep the minidisk ATRAC codec (arguably much better than mp3, unfortunately while mp3 became ubiquitous despite patents, ATRAC never did) along with the draconic drm.
I lived a year in Japan in 1997-98 - I recall a fellow high school student had racks upon tracks of "pirated" MDs at home. It was a similar price model to streaming; less pr cd/disk, but "at least something" - as everyone would rent a CD and buy a blank mini-disk - and rip at home. No digital/lossless copy from a copied MD to a blank.
Classic example of the west being slow at adapting some tech, then "jumping" to the next (here, using a computer to rip cds, not dedicated hw, like an MD deck and cd player, linked via digital coax/optical cable). And then skipping cd rentals in favour of first pirated music, then streaming. Much helped by by free software like Winamp that AFAIK ignored the licensing on mp3 in most cases.
The iPods were certainly helped by mp3 file-sharing - that probably wouldn't have happened if they could only play back aac or whatever - if they weren't mp3 players not merely music players.
I have an Apple Watch, it unlocks my laptop automatically. My AirPods connect seamlessly to my phone for listening to music, my watch when I'm working out and my laptop when I'm doing video calls at work. Continuity, AirDrop, AirPlay ... you can't deny that Apple has built an impressive ecosystem.
Actually the Walkman (which was arguably Sony's second breakout product, the first being a transistor radio) Sony was definitely the cool kid. And don't forget the Playstation or the Trinitron.
In fact Steve Jobs explicitly emulated and admired Sony for their (then) sense of style, customer appeal and quality.
The Sony of today is a different company. Despite the PS2 success I date the decay to when they bought United Artists.
Sony had the Walkman but missed the mp3-player market, didn't bring out a walkman phone, and now they have a product competing with AirPods that's naturally completely disconnected from the walkman both directly and indirectly because "walkmen are ancient" which is not some universal truth, that's just what they let their previously powerful brand degrade to. They've wisely chosen to brand their Airpod competitor the Sony WF1000XM3, who doesn't want products that sound like version of cruiser missiles, or shipping container dimensions? Ironically I heard a friened describe his pair as his "Sony AirPods", because that's what they are to him, the equivalent of Apple AirPods but cheaper and made by Sony, because even the people who own the product can't remember the name. So naturally friends ask why not get "Real" AirPods? And his answer was price, which makes the product sound like a cheap discount version. But it's in the same price range and same quality and even beat out the AirPods in some reviews. Talk about a branding disaster.
At roughly the same time I got an iPod, and an Apple-hating housemate bought a Sony MP3 player with a name only a barcode scanner could love. Also it couldn’t play MP3s, instead a weird proprietary format that didn’t work anywhere else. Songs had to be converted using their crappy software.
He swapped it for an iPod within weeks.
Even now, the conversation is ‘what are those?’, ‘oh, they’re AirPods’. Compared to ‘what are those?’, ‘oh, they’re Sony WC-31... err, Sony headphone things.
Good work guys.
Software has always been their Achiles heel.
Their laptop where cool but running widows with super custom drivers. Their music players were cool but running weird formats with proprietary interfaces. Anything that needs software intercompatibility has been basically doomed under Sony.
In contrast Apple has decent software and overcomes the strategy tax by canibilizing itself restlessly and letting third parties eat their lunch where they’re not good enough (to a point. Apple still clings at default apps on iOS for instance)
I'd point more towards the competitiveness of the digital music market making their aggressive attempts to lock customers into their own narrowly focused music platform much less appealing. In game consoles, proprietary content is the point; not so much in audio gear.
In that respect their MD player was also running decent software, it just didn’t talk to anything not Sony produced.
Anecdotally, they also have a joint venture with Docomo that worked on NFC payment solutions that was super successful with genuinely strong software.
On the music market, I think the lockin wasn’t so much an issue (iPods also locked you in to some extent) than Sony’s desktop software being utter garbage.
I actually bought a Net Walkman at that time because I liked the hardware more, and it was hell: I’m not even sure there was any mac support, I might have run a VM for that, and even in a proper windows environment it was still buggy, extremely time consumming to move tacks to the player, yet limited and low quality. I personally think Sony lost to itself, more than the competition coming for Sony.
So far, they have 3 generations of those (over the past 5 years iirc). You know what the naming scheme for each generation is?
MDR-1000X (that’s the gen i have and love; heard that the 3rd has some great improvements over the first two as well) -> WH-1000XM2 -> WH-1000XM3
To add an insult to injury, it is literally just one character away from just as poorly named “sony airpods”, which is WF-1000XM3.
I had a Sony MP3 player in 2000. It only played atrac files and I had to specially rip and encode my cds to be able to play. The hardware was neat, it was like a thick pencil. But the software was purposely horrible because Sony wanted to not allow mp3s or songs bought outside their ecosystem.
They actually did, the Sony Ericsson W800. But if you didn't know about that, it kinda proves your point, the branding wasn't a resounding success.
They also seem technology-driven.
Variant: UI is all too often painful. Extra steps, easy invocation of dangerous mistakes.
Finally, the sense of abandonment. You bought it, WTF do you think you are - you want updates for years, or compatibility with other devices?
Apple doesn't give much re: specs because they're mostly irrelevant in use. UI is nuanced. And everything is built to keep you smoothly progressing deeper into the ecosystem.
This isn't true but maybe that verifies exactly the point you're trying to make. Sony had a whole line of Walkman phones including a Walkman brick phone, a flip phone, and an awesome switchblade-style phone. They were able to sync music to your computer directly, without any software, and stored it all on a Sony memory stick. Unfortunately, they also did not have a standard headphone jack and relied on connecting headphones through the same data/sync port which meant that you had to use and buy the Walkman-branded headphones from Sony.
They were soooo close but a few key decisions made them fail miserably.
But Sony did use its previous products positioning to produce and market new ones. The arguably owned the "portable audio" market from their first transistor radio in 1955, through the Walkman brand dominance up until the first iPod.
They were no longer really able to compete after the key differentiator became software.
The only problems are the original pleather earcups wear off ($15 replacements are everywhere online), and the cord is pretty long since these are studio headphones. Some people cut the cord by the earpiece and splice a female end, but that's a little beyond my skill set.
Got my first MacBook because of work. Was previously a windows / Linux user and didn’t get macs but ended up loving the MacBook Pro. Got an iPhone from work too, ended up loving that too. Got a pair of AirPods as present, use it pretty frequently now.
Seems like both a good thing (like it after using it) and a bad thing (wouldn’t have gotten into it if not for the unplanned opportunity) for Apple.
Back when i bought airpods 2 years ago, I still had an Android, and they blew me away in terms of UX. Up to that moment, i have tried and failed to find a pair of fully wireless earbuds that worked as well and sounded as good (for earbuds, obviously). And even today, out of all people i know with android phones, about a third of them use airpods. Each one of them had a similar story of quiet dismissal of airpods for quite a while since the release, then they tried them, and bought them shortly after.
P.S. as of now, there are a few good non-airpods truly wireless earbuds that are solid alternatives. Back when i got them, however, every single model out there I tried had some critical flaw. Things like dropped connection or sound getting choppy and stuttery in certain areas. It mostly happened on busy street intersections, so i guess it had something to do with interference from a lot of other bluetooth devices, because the exact same thing used to happen to bluetooth connection in my old car at one specific heavy traffic intersection.
Being able to just put them in your ears and instantly listen to music is something that i never thought i would care for, but after using airpods for a bit, there is no way i am going back.
I still use wired over the ear headphones, but only on my desktop. The desktop scenario is perfect for wired, since it is stationary (i.e., i never have to worry about unwringling the cable or worrying about it getting caught on clothing, and they are always plugged in).
P.S. i still dont get the point of your comment. You reply on the comment chain talking about Apple and their impressive entry in the field of wireless earbuds decrying the whole industry of wireless earbuds. It’s like going into a thread talking about how Tesla dominates in the EV market with their supercharger infrastructure and vehicle range, and exclaiming “you know what doesn’t have this problem? Gas cars.”
I disagree with the idea that it's marketing. Apple does very little marketing these days. Apple products are a memetic virus.
Apple does a significant amount of marketing, and I'd argue that they've been steadily ramping it up recently. It's just that they're usually a lot better at staying out of your face about it.
But they certainly do advertising specifically. A lot has been oriented around photography for a while but that's hardly surprising as people certainly don't upgrade phones for texting or phone calls.
Sony WF-1000XM3 are a popular in-ear Bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling. 80 EUR cheaper than Apple Airpods Pro.
If people want quality (or at least guarantee of quality in what they buy) they'll tend to whatever is better. N.B. "Better" can mean ease-of-use/experience too (Apple)
2) There's a lot of copy cats who look akin to Apple Airpods because Apple is a premium brand.
That’s competitive differentiation, which is very much part of marketing. An iPhone isn’t easy to use in the same way that git is easier to use than svn for someone who has been using git for a decade.
I know a lot of iphone users think it's the most intuitive machine in the world and a 5 year old can get it, and I'm obviously heavily swayed by my decade or whatever with Android but the amount of hidden/unintuitive-to-me/impossible-to-do things I found was what moved me back to Android after that trial.
I spent a LOT of time searching on Google for how to do things with that phone.
While both keyboards are nearly the same, everything you type would be wrong for quite a while.
Unless you mean the wider ecosystem, in which case I agree.
I had a big performance problem on my s7 way after putting in a high speed SDcard that apparently was corrupted or damaged. I was only, as far as I know, who knows what Android was storing on it, putting podcasts/images on it and it still brought my entire OS to its knees until I removed it. That was a huge trial in my Android loyalty because I went months with this incredibly slow phone until I finally was packing it up to sell, remembered "oh I don't want the buyer to have my SDcard!" pulled it out and it felt like a new phone again, I got another 2-3 years out of it. Eventually tossed it at the ground on accident thus the s8..
Why is this an issue? Do you need dedicated back and forward buttons to browse through your pictures? Of course not, you just swipe left and right. That’s how the iPhone handles the “back” movement.
I just clicked on an album in "Photos", I could scroll through them swiping left and right to go through the photos but now I have to rely on the arrow at the top left of the screen to go back to view all albums.
I like having a back button always present on the buttom of my screen in Android for this.
So if you've selected a photo, a swipe down dismisses the photo. From there, a swipe in from the very edge of the screen brings you out of the current album and back to viewing all albums.
I will make a video demonstrating it if you would like.
Initially, this behavior may seem weird to some from outside the iOS ecosystem? But dismissing photos by pulling down seems to be common UX with modern apps. And swiping from the side feels so natural, that apps that don't implement it (10%?) are jarring. It could be said that a weakness here is that Apple does not enforce universal usage, but most apps have implemented it well. When it does work (90%?), my thumb appreciates not having to reach the bottom left of the phone.
Sorry if it sounded sarcastic, this was a sincere question.
This is largely not true anymore. (In fact, in certain areas it would be appropriate to say that it's iPhone doing the "crushing".)
The answer is monopoly pricing vs competition. Apple is the only iOS manufacturer, just like they were the only MacOS
Manufacturer (excepting the brief period of Mac clones)
That means all Android manufacturers compete and split their market driving down prices and margins and divvying up market share.
You saw the same thing in PCs when they were almost sold at cost or razor thin margins because they were commodified: a pc from dell vs hp vs compaq vs gazillion other vendors was basically the same experience.
I don’t disagree with this, but it only matters at all because iOS (and access to its user interface, Safari, lock in on iMessages) is a distinct value add. BlackBerry also had a monopoly on their OS as did Palm as did Nokia. None of them exist anymore.
Wonder how much influence that had on current AirPods.
Heart Rate, Sleep Tracking, Mic/Phone, Payments are all wonderful, but the drawbacks of "machine-learning-shake-to-wake", one-day battery life, and trying to fiddle with a tiny touch screen make the Apple watch less of a watch and more of "everything but a watch".
Long Live Pebble / Rest in Peace.
The only true part of this sentence
> it is a damn shame that FitBit was allowed to purchase the company
Pebble failed financially and put its assets up for sale, some of which were bought by Fitbit.
> and immediately shut it down
Fitbit kept servers running for years that supported Pebble devices.
I'm a Fitbit employee but don't speak for Fitbit. An official response wouldn't be so terse; I'm just annoyed that this falsehood keeps going years later.
It's Air Pod or...
Fuck I have no idea what all these numbers and letters mean, I'll buy some Air Pods.
To someone who uses Sony, AudioTechnica (loved my ATH-M50s for.. 5+ years) , Jabra. etc you tend to learn the numbering not that it's great. It's like buying a 3 series or 5 series BMW. There's usually some way to determine which class they're in from that brand, like the Sonys were 1000MX2s before they became 1000MX3s, next will be the MX4, the preceding WF or WH is earbuds vs over-ear (no idea what WF or WH actually means, though).
The sony WF-1000XM3 get mentioned immediately if you google/reddit/etc for "Air Pod Alternative"
Why do you need only one competitor? I picked a random non-apple bluetooth 5 earpod and it's a superior product for over $100 less as far as I can tell.
To most buyers, they don't need to search for anything. It's an Apple product that works with their other Apple products because of course it does.
Zero people have been swayed by the observation that the components can be acquired for cheaper
And the non-iOS phone users that are married to “how much control they have” have touched an iphone since 2014.
I've been thinking of jumping to iPhone for the watch and privacy features. It really grinds my gears how much Google has sold out its users.
I don't even tinker that much and my foray into iOS lasted only 1 year with the 10S Max. The inability to arrange items freely on the desktop (leave a blank space) was frustrating. The lack of control over default apps was occasionally problematic. The inability to natively link to a Windows computer and transfer files is also something I use.
That said, there are a ton of benefits of iOS over Android that I recognize (iMessage, Apple Wallet, the screen responsiveness, etc).
Oh, how wrong I was. Siri is still garbage, CarPlay is terrible compared to Android Auto. And there's nothing even similar to Google Home. Apple's hands-free story is completely nonexistent which is fine if you've never used a decent hands-free ecosystem, but it's very hard to switch back to.
Its one vs many variants
Jim Collins talked about his conversations with Steve Jobs at the end of the Knowledge project podcasts. He started talking to Steve after Steve got fired from Apple.
"what the tech can do"? you mean the airpods?
what else is there?
The iPod was far from the first, far from the best, and maybe even technically not an mp3 player.
Honstly every time I see someone wearing earpods I can't take him seriously anymore, they look _so_ bad. There's a lot of options on the market, and airpods are the ugliest of them all.
Personally, I don't wear these sorts of things in public but that's mostly because I hate being isolated from even relatively benign environments.
The only upside is they’re branded, so you can make yourself look like you’re the type of person who owns Apple products. Wow.
I'm not even sure what standard anyone here could use to claim that AirPods (or anything) are cool. Apple products are a status symbol, and sure they have potential to be cool, but glorifying bluetooth earbuds as such looks more, to me, like we're just conflating whatever cool means with the idea of status.
I'm not saying they're mutually exclusive, but I am saying I require some actual definition of terms and proof beyond sales or people wearing them to take the claim seriously on HN. Otherwise, it just looks like a fanboy being a fanboy.
But yeah, anything sticking out of your ears that has a lower profile than wired headphones falls into this goofy uncanny valley of man-melding-with-machine, at least in my view. And this is why I believe that Steve Jobs had the design-sense to see that and not allow it. But hey, maybe not, maybe the way I have articulated it is completely wrong, and this goofy uncanny valley is actually really cool.