> (By the way, the article in question put AirPods revenue at $12 billion in 2019. The actual number will end up being more like half that - closer to $7.5 billion.)
Which means it still exceeds each of them separately.
Just to put that in context for everyone here. If his analysis is correct, AirPods are still bigger than Spotify, which is fascinating to think about.
Spotify also have a huge number of free accounts that rely on ads which probably means less profits for Spotify. Everyone still needs to actually spend money to get the device but you don't really need to spend money to listen to music. Also, while Airpods is a "one off" purchase, a lot of people don't like having subscriptions (like me for example).
I have spent hundreds of dollars the last years on headphones (not Airpods tho) but I hesitate for a long time before starting a subscription service. Not because I cannot afford to, I just do not like subscription services.
Spotify, Youtube Music etc provide a free service. With adblocker, music.youtube.com is totally free without any ads so I have a really hard time to justify the cost of another paid service like Spotify.
Edit: if you downvote this, please comment on why? What is incorrect about my statements?
When I was in my teens, I spent waaay more money on CD's than I ever did on my Discman and headphones.
The fact that it's now the norm to spend more money on your audio hardware than on what you listen to is just an interesting reversal.
Since also many (like me) pirated their way in their teens I never purchased many cds. I got an mp3 early from japan with 512mb of disk space. This was huge, all my classmates had like 128mb or less.
It was clear for me anyway that I would never pay a lot for the music because there was simply no reason to. I haven't really experienced the time where it was a norm to spend a lot of money on cds.
I am 29 and this kind of experience you have seems to become more and more uncommon as time passes ;)
Airpods might have captured more of the market this year for headphones than Spotify captures for its market. Finally the people who use Spotify might use multiple services etc.
So even if you spend more money on your audio hardware than what you listen to I don't think we know if people actually spend more on their hardware than on what they listen to.
Back in the day you had to buy each album individually for $10-$15 (or more) each, same with movies. Nowadays I can go on Netflix and watch what would've been hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of DVDs for 13 bucks a month.
Of course, that was nearly 3 years ago so it's almost certain margins have improved on what is essentially the same product, but I suspect Apple's margins on these are not as high as for the iPhone or iPad.
Spotify's big problem is they sell a product which is 99% commodity. Anyone with enough money can create a music streaming service and all resellers pay very similar rates for the same content. Apple Music, Amazon's music, and Google's music all sell the same essential thing. Spotify's only chance for turning their product into a premium (thus profit generating) service is building a significantly better playlist and music recommendation service.
Oh hell no. That was started by DaringFireball John Gruber. When we talk about margins it is important to note most would refer or implies this as Gross Profit Margin. Which is without the R&D and Marketing Cost, since these are fixed cost, i.e They are the same irrespective of how many unit were sold.
All the Audio Gear ( Or Accessories ) sold on the market has some of the highest Gross Profits Margin. Much higher than iPhone or Mac because they were never meant to be sold in huge quantities. Beats, and Apple AirPod were the only two Audio gear that manage to sell in volume.
I would be surprised if the BOM cost of AirPods is higher than $20. ( You could get a replica of AirPod without W1 Chip from Shenzhen for less than $10, $8 in thousands of unit, so I am already add lots of headroom in my BOM estimate. ) The major cost is developing W1 Chip and Speaker R&D. Which needs to amortised over unit volume. And AirPods did that spectacularly well.
Second. No Manufacture like to undercut in price ( Even the Chinese brands are getting away from it ). It is much better to follow Apple's price and offer higher margin for retailers, better incentive to 3rd party resellers and sales to push volume. And we all know it somehow didn't work quite as planned. Xiaomi launched their 3rd revision Airdot for $40. Using Qualcomm Chip.
Third, All the competitor your mentioned combined would not even come close to Apple's Airpod Shipment. Most of the major competitors, just sell a fairly low quantities.
In 2 years the battery life fall to 1 hour? This is just crazy unsustainable!
I'm just surprised I've never run them through the wash.
Please take into consideration that making something replaceable means (in general) adding more stuff to the product. I doubt at this scale that is it possible to maintain the small size and to also have replaceable battery with the current hardware capabilities.
Is "this" referring to "Apple Airpods" or "free market capitalism"?
These are $250 headphones. I've loved music all my life and I used to get weird looks from people when I told them I was spending $150-200 on nice earbuds with better sound quality. For about a decade everyone was pretty happy with the white iPod headphones that came in the box.
Thinking back I guess Beats opened the floodgates of "normal people having expensive headphones" and also "headphones as fashion" and then AirPods came in and added a whole convenience layer on top which seems to be driving people to buy in droves.
So yeah, Apple's raking it in. Guess I shouldn't be surprised.
It just makes dealing with incessant city noise so much more manageable.
You don't even have to be listening to music.
But if you are listening to music, you hear it so much more clearly and can use a lower volume.
From a quality of life perspective, if you commute by foot/subway/bus, they're so so worth it.
(Yes there were noise-cancelling headphones before, but always bulky or with wires. With AirPods, they're just effortless to bring+wear.)
Not true. Sony WF-1000XM3's were released before airpod pros, and they have ANC tech that is by all accounts better than Apples. Its the same ANC module that is in the WH-1000XM3's which are viewed by many to be the best ANC headphone right now.
> You don't even have to be listening to music.
It does noise cancelling without music? That seems like a bad feature for something that you are expected to keep in your ear all the time.
It's a great feature.
I do expect to keep them on, they are expensive device and I won't open the little carrying case and put them in each time someone may speak to me.
>press a hardware button which toggles noise cancellation instantly
That does makes it quite handy!
(And if AirPods of any kind don't work for your ears, give the Powerbeats a test drive. For me, AirPods are great until I start actively moving around, or put a helmet on.)
I can sort of understand spending $200 on really good quality, comfortable headphones, though I wouldn't myself - if only because I'll inevitably break or lose them after a few months, even more of an issue with these wireless headphones. But if they don't check either of those boxes, I can't fathom why they're so popular, aside from Apple marketing.
The reason I bought the original Airpods and will likely buy the newer ones is all about convenience. I wear them on my mountain bike and commuting and being truly wireless is invaluable. Turns out for me the #1 way headphones pop out is due to snagging the cable on something (hands, branches, clothing, etc). Also, being able to quickly connect and switch devices, is fantastic.
If cables truly don't bother you, then there are plenty of great options for wired headsets which offer better quality sound. For me, I can't even sit at my desk and code anymore without getting annoyed now.
Wish it had better bass personally
Gen1 airpods basically suck after 1.5 years in because they only hold 30 min of call battery life. I'd be willing to bet thats 50% of the adoption.
> For about a decade everyone was pretty happy with the white iPod headphones that came in the box.
Which have been made obsolete by smartphone manufacturers (namely Apple) by eliminating the headphone jack.
> AirPods came in and added a whole convenience layer on top which seems to be driving people to buy in droves
1) They're wireless (and dont have the unfashionable "wire around the neck thing") and 2) see point about headphone jack above.
People love to claim this, but I'm sorry. I have lightening wired ear buds that came with my iPhone 11. I would never use them. The wires absolutely destroy the usability of ear buds. They constantly snag on things, they're always in a knot, etc. Dealing with the wire-management is a cognitive load that's just super irritating. Not to mention when I used to try to fall asleep listening to a podcast using wired ear buds. Waking up with the cord wound around your neck is, again, super annoying.
In contrast, the wireless AirPods just make using them pleasant. It's a joy to not have to think about the wires, especially after years have being scarred by them.
I have noticed that the wires just don't get tangled like they used to. It takes a few shakes and maybe a pull to get them undone, where it used to take several minutes to get your headphones in a working state. Did "tangle-free" technology become ubiquitous or am I just imagining things?
I'm not sure if this 100% explains what you're seeing, but it's probably a factor.
Most of my headphones don't have a braided cable though, and all of those are so easy to untangle.
> The wires absolutely destroy the usability of ear buds.
And when your batteries are dead, the headphones literally do not work. How is that for usability?
Don't tell that to my Gen1 AirPods which I use daily and get me from 8:00am to 11:45am (3.75 hours) before they need to be recharged. I got them for Valentine's Day in 2017, so they're 2 years and almost 11 months old.
That said it is a new product category, hopefully it will get better over time. And I do own the new airpods pro.
They're kind of a Ship of Theseus, insofar as I have replaced every element but the drivers multiple times. I'm fairly handy with a soldering iron, and have been repairing them myself with parts for the manufacturer.
I think that this about the best case for repairs.
One replacement of the cord generates more plastic waste than the entirety of the airpods I use.
I've also been going through wired headphones at a rate of about 1 per year, as they are mechanically fragile. However, I don't think that this year I will be replacing the airpods I have been using for the last year... granted the battery will eventually fail. But to me, the lifetime on the airpods is so-far exceeding that of the wired earphones.
So am I wrong in thinking that between having replaceable components that are wasteful in themselves and the increased lifespan of the device, I'm just paying a rather large premium to -reduce- e-waste?
The battery is a much bigger issue than the cord. If it get recycled correctly sure, but most people won't recycle it...
You are a pretty tiny exception.
So it goes hand in hand with removing the headphone jack. Remove the ability to not require a battery, and then don't allow people to replace the battery.
My wired headphones all broke after about ~2 years (100-150€ models from Sennheiser and Teufel, plus the ones shipped with phones). In my Beats Studio 3, the hinges broke before the battery even degraded. As an extreme example, my 1st-gen iPad still lasts hours, but hasn't seen a software update in many years.
Planned obsolescence ticks me off, but I don't feel it has gotten any worse with non-replaceable batteries. Everything you buy breaks after 2 years, that's just how the incentives work for companies.
I find Sennheiser and Audiotechnica build quality products that last if you buy their higher end stuff. In the case of AT, the M50x's aren't even that expensive and they are as good as the day I bought them.
I think that was also what happened to the Sennheiser ones, but it's too long ago to say for sure. Makes me happy to see that so many of you are luckier than me :) - Sennheiser is just around the corner from where I live so I want them to be the good guys.
With quality over-ear headphones with easy to replace parts ? Sure.
With in-ear earphones? Depends on the user. Many people I know tend to break/fray the cable or lose them atleast once a year. Most in-ear earphones were used as a semi-disposable item.
If you buy some top end headphones with replaceable cables and replaceable ear covers you can get 10+ years out of them. The majority of pairs I've owned haven't lasted near that long. About 2 years is pretty typical before I fatally snag a cable, drop them in water, run them over, or lose them. Even barring some kind of life ending issue, cables and ear covers don't usually last much more than 2-3 years for me, even on pricier headphones. I do have a pair of AKG headphones which have lasted me about 5 years now after replacing the ear covers (which is itself a form of e-waste), but since they are so bulky I wear them a small fraction of the time I wear my AirPods so it's difficult to compare.
Pleather and foam earpads (which I'm assuming is what you mean by ear covers) aren't really e-waste in the same way that batteries and circuit boards are, the pleather can be recycled as well as the foam, and higher end pads are animal skin anyway.
Even IF such a magical product exists, I would still buy the AirPods because not having cables is exactly the reason I wanted them.
Why would I lie about a product I own on some internet forum? Furthermore why do feel so attacked by the fact you can find good cheap tech if you do any amount of research? I'm glad you're happy with your AirPods, but $250 is a lot of money for a lot of people who would rather just take better care of their headphones.
The big reason people like the AirPods is because they don't have cables which is a huge convenience. They also let you make phone calls, dictate text messages, and control your phone (and anything controllable by your phone via voice interaction) by voice. If none of this appeals to you and you don't mind the cables, fabulous, but don't pretend the two products are comparable.
Also the base AirPods are $139, not $250.
you mean ship it off to live in a landfill in africa/india. even their much vaunted green initiatives keep handing off trash til they reach a company that does this
The only exceptions to this I know of is the Pixel lineup (Pixel 1 got Android 10) and "Android One" phones https://www.android.com/one/, although this only guarantees 2 years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.
> Monthly security updates to be supported for at least 3 years after initial phone release
In Norway these devices are covered for up to 5 years after date of purchase. This follows the product, so unlike some warranties it also covers second hand purchases as well.
In most cases, whether intentional or not, only the battery needs to be changed, but because of the way products are designed now, you have to throw the other 80% of the product in the trash.
When world's governments become a little more environmentally-conscious, they'll see this solution as a no-brainer, just like the EU saw a single charging standard necessary to combat electronics waste.
It's a shame to see "green Apple" spearhead the exact opposite of this movement with products that become environmental waste once their battery drops below 50% or so their original capacity.
For example, why is it one of my most cherished possessions, a single pair of bluetooth headphones, paying a penalty while my roommate gets 3-5 Amazon shipments a day to our house for free and eats cheap meat with every meal if we actually care about the environmental impact of things? We need to be more creative than crafting legislation for individual scapegoat products and consumer-blaming.
And from my experience, wired headphones tend to break after a couple of years as well, for different reasons.
And now we have two attention-seeking Airpods revenue stories instead of one.
Where would you draw the line in general for acceptable accuracy of discussion about unknown things, so we can keep the discussion above the line and take down everything below it?
I thought Apple was always a bit vague about exact revenues by product and those kind of granular numbers. They would give numbers here or there but it was never clear what exactly those numbers meant.
Twitter annualized revenue from Q419 is $3bn. Spotify 19Q2 revenue annualized is $6bn.
One of the big problems with the modern web is how quickly mis-information get amplified and how corrections get muffled.
I'm not sure who is more trustworthy, but it generally seems like most people think $12B is too high and Cybart (the correction tweet guy) is closer to the actual sales figure
I also still have the same pair of Oakelys I bought fifteen years ago. But I understand not everyone is so regimented (my wife, for instance), so I'm sure more than a few have made a trip through the wash. My wife lost hers for a while, so I used credit card points to buy a new pair. She then, of course, promptly found her prior pair and now she has two.
You might be thinking in terms of a single AirPod, but for most practical purposes, the unit to track is the case that holds them, and it's not so easy to lose. Thanks to its existence, no AirPod should ever be in a pocket un-cased, so no risk of washing machines, either.
It was well-established in the comments on the previous article that many numbers were wildly off, so without any sources these tweets bring absolutely nothing new to the conversation.
Also, if they are detached from the iphone, wouldn't you lose them pretty easily?
You don't lose them because they live in a charging case and they go straight from ear to charging case. You never put them down anywhere else.
The difference with using them is bigger than you would imagine. There's no untangling of cable, no threading down clothes, no restriction on where you put your phone (assuming it's vaguely nearby). I can, for instance, put them in one handed while never taking my eyes off the road.
PS. The world is not on fire. Most of the 1st world will live through this with some bumps and scratches along the way, because we have sufficient resources to engineer our way out of any problems. It's only "catastrophic" for poor people near the equator. It's not fatalism, it's just being pragmatic about where the incentives are.