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AirPods revenue does not exceed Spotify, Twitter, Snapchat, and Shopify revenue (twitter.com)
287 points by coloneltcb 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments



The HN title is ambiguous. The point of the Twitter thread is that it doesn't exceed them combined. But then he writes:

> (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.


I don't get whats weird about that? You need some kind of device in order to listen to Spotify and today there is a lot of services competing with Spotify.

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?


Just that it used to be the opposite for most people.

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.


Well, with the advent of internet and better computers I guess producing music and distributing it became so much cheaper and faster the price dropped.

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 ;)


This made me remember the days of having to decide which songs to put on my little 128MB Rio MP3 player every week. Such a strange "problem" to think about now.


Looking back on Discman, iPod, stereo receivers, car stereos, speaker setups, and the golden age of kazaa and torrents, I think most people spend more on audio hardware than content, but ad revenue makes it competitive.


are you sure it's the norm? I mean first off Spotify is a service that gets money on a subscription model, airpods are a hardware device, so the people who buy airpods this year and that have spotify will buy spotify maybe 2 or 3 years before they buy new airpods.

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.


There's just so much to listen to besides music.


That, and also the fact that services like Spotify/Netflix/Amazon/etc. allow you to access everything for a flat monthly fee.

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.


It’s free without ads, but is it ethical? That’s the larger question to be asked. Say what you will about how big a cut the corporations get vs the artists, but you’re taking the service without paying for it, directly or indirectly. I hate ads just as much as you, but I also pay for most of the media I consume regularly, be it spotify, newspapers, even youtube, I contribute to various youtuber’s patreons. All in all I probably spend no more that $30 a month on these subscriptions, all ad free, and helping to ensure that the media I love can continue to be offered at reasonable prices. If you can’t afford it, that’s one thing, but you said you can, so...

There’s more headphone options than Spotify option, and many of those options are less than AirPods or what you’d spend on Spotify in a year.


Also, given Apple’s famously wide margins on products, it’s interesting to consider profitability and not just overall revenue.


Oh if you started getting into profit you'd be able to stuff tons of companies into the "made more than" bucket, considering that Spotify has had 3 profitable quarters ever, twitter ebbs and flows between profitable and loss quarters, snapchat still isn't profitable. Shopify seems to be a bit more dependable with profits though, so hooray for them.


There's never been any disclosure of AirPod margins, it's lumped into a big group of other products including Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Beats. Based on the slow production ramp up of the AirPods (they were selling them as fast as they could produce them) and competitor pricing on competitive hardware, there was a lot of conjecture that for the first year or so AirPods were sold at break even.

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.


>here was a lot of conjecture that for the first year or so AirPods were sold at break even.

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.


It's more than 3 years after the original AirPod launch so all your conjecture about modern knock off products is irrelevant. In the years after AirPods were launched, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all tried to replicate the AirPods at the time and wound up priced higher than the AirPods. Samsung, Google, and Amazon in particular are notorious for launching "As good as Apple but cheaper" products with lower margins... yet they weren't able to be price competitive at the time.


First the replica were there from day 1, with improved version 6 months later with the exact pairing. ( They reversed engineered the Apple Pairing system ) for the same price. You could get a Xiaomi version for $30 in early 2018.

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.


I get that AirPods are designed to be replaced frequently, but geeze, is this sustainable?


I don't think they're made to be replaced, it's more a side-effect of the battery being smaller and more susceptible to wear. The original airpods I got 2 years ago still work for about an hour and do fine.


> The original airpods I got 2 years ago still work for about an hour and do fine.

In 2 years the battery life fall to 1 hour? This is just crazy unsustainable!


As a counter-point, I'm running on 3 years and still get a few hours out of mine. The gamechanger for AirPods was the convenience of the charging case.

I'm just surprised I've never run them through the wash.


If that's the case why isn't the battery replaceable. I spent less money on way better audio quality headphones (Sennheiser HD25) over 20 years ago and they are still going strong. So far I replaced the cable once and the ear pads every few years. Though I would like to buy airpod pros for traveling I cannot bring myself to buy something that will last only 2 years. That is a disgusting example of inbuilt obsolescence and should actually be illegal to sell.


While in general I am for replaceable part I really fail to see how this desire can be put into really. AirPods are really really small in terms of how much tech they include.

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.


Apple could do it in store with specialized tools if necessary. This way they could at least capture some revenue and keep the design miniaturized. How are we to fight climate change on one hand and accept this on the other hand?


> How are we to fight climate change on one hand and accept this on the other hand?

Is "this" referring to "Apple Airpods" or "free market capitalism"?


Yes.

Same here, 2+ year old AirPods that still hold charge for about an hour. I’ve used them heavily in the first year and still average about 3-4 hours a week for conference calls and a couple more hours of music. In the first year I was using them 3-4 hours per day, sometimes even more.


the iphone market is around 900 million active users, and airpods have not reached every iphone user yet, thus there is still market for growth, and that's just within Apple's ecosystem


In San Francisco (so at the center of the bubble) I've been shocked by the adoption of the AirPods pro. I see them everywhere now and they've only been out for two months or so. Add the regular AirPods in and they're downright ubiquitous.

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.


The noise cancelling changes everything.

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.)


> (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.


Off topic, but Sony really needs to get better with naming their products.


It's true, but the main advantage of the Airpods is how compact and convenient overall they are. I keep them in my front pocket usually and I don't even feel that they are here. Sony's case is just too bulky for my taste: https://i.imgur.com/OcJrMHn.jpg

> It just makes dealing with incessant city noise so much more manageable.

> 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 can be turned on and off at the user's discretion. There's also a transparency mode to make it easier to hear your surroundings without having to take the AirPods out of your ears. See: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210643


That's really nice then!


You can a) take them out whenever you want, nobody's "expecting" you to keep them in all the time, and b) press a hardware button which toggles noise cancellation instantly, if someone wants to talk to you.

It's a great feature.


> nobody's "expecting" you to keep them in all the time,

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!


Don't forget that more than a few of us are sporting Powerbeats Pros, basically AirPods with ear hooks. I personally haven't visually surveyed how common they are, but I can't be the only one that bought a pair. I'm guessing they don't come close to AirPods on sales because you kinda have to know the Powerbeats exist. Whereas I think you'd have to live deep in that cave to not know about AirPods.

(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 am not someone who spend a lot of money on audio hardware, but plunked $150 for AirPods. The product is just so good, and there is no way I can go back to a wired headset now. In fact I hate talking on my phone without AirPods in general now


Are the AirPods actually good headphones? Personally I don't consider the basic Apple headphones that come with iPhones to be either good audio quality or comfortable design, and the AirPods look identcal aside from the lack of wires (but I've never used them).

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.


My ears are not great so it's really hard for me to speak about audio quality. But in my eyes, they are comparable to some of the more mid-range earbuds in terms of sound quality. I'd love to try the AB2 due to the sound isolation & noise cancellation, but can't justify buying a new set when my current set still work so well.

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.


I'd say gen 2 is good enough with the noise cancellation/passthrough.

Wish it had better bass personally


Airpods, not really. They still are the same uncomfortable plastic and not so great sound. Apple earbuds have always hurt my ears so airpods would be a no go for me. Airpods pro are quite a bit better but still won't be comfortable for everyone.


yes, they are (imho). AirPods Pro are noticeably better than AirPods and wired Apple earbuds, in both comfort and sound quality. I actually prefer them over my over-ear Sennheisers.


> I've been shocked by the adoption of the AirPods pro.

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.


> Which have been made obsolete by smartphone manufacturers (namely Apple) by eliminating the headphone jack.

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.


As a random aside, has anyone else noticed that headphone wires don't get tangled the way the used to? It used to be next to impossible to untangle headphones you put in your pocket. But I don't have anything Apple, so I haven't gotten into the AirPods at all, and my phones have kept the headphone jacks, so I still use headphones with wires.

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?


At some point the popular wire insulation changed from a kind of super-flexible silicone-like plastic to a resin-based PVC-free version. Partly for environmental reasons, but it had the side-effect of making wires a little stiffer and slicker. It's also why a couple generations of Lightning cables were known for splitting at the bend point.

I'm not sure if this 100% explains what you're seeing, but it's probably a factor.


Thanks for the insight here, very interesting. I have been wondering what the shift could be, and this makes a lot of sense at least in part.


I noticed that wires that are not perfectly round (they’re kinda rectangular with one very thin and one wider side) don’t tangle as much as the round ones and I’ve seen a lot of those in recent years. So form might be a factor as well.


My experience has been the opposite. I have IEMs with a fairly nice 4-core braided copper cable and it takes a minute to untangle them if they're in my pocket. My other headphones don't fit in my pocket so no problems there.


I will yield braided cables still tangle like a mfer. My Massdrop X Senn gaming headphones have a braided cable that is constantly tangled up. I got a pair of braided headphones with my S10+ and they are stiff as hell yet they still tangle.

Most of my headphones don't have a braided cable though, and all of those are so easy to untangle.


So, because you personally are scarred by the use of wired headphones (which is hilarious that something like that would "scar you", sensationalist much?) everyone else has that same experience? scratches head...

> 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?


Gen1 airpods basically suck after 1.5 years in because they only hold 30 min of call battery life.

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.


The parent poster did specify “call battery life”. I can listen to music for hours, but a call with two-way communication drains my AirPods battery very quickly.


This exactly. I use them for both calls and listening to music. They've been rendered almost useless for calls (which used to be 1-1.5hrs, perfect timing for a full conf call).


It's a bit sad when one of the best reasons to buy a product is that the previous version sucks after 1.5 years. We are not making great incentives for manufacturers to make lasting products.

That said it is a new product category, hopefully it will get better over time. And I do own the new airpods pro.


In contrast, down in LA, Airpods were everywhere (at least among iPhone users)...but are now being replaced by cheaper headphones as the owners lose their airpods.


Not only are AirPods very profitable, but with a non-user-serviceable battery, they are also disposable. This way users can enjoy buying new $200 AirPods every couple years and Apple gets the recurring revenue to pour to climate initiatives like combating the rise of e-waste.


So, my other listening equipment is a pait of senn HD280 that I have had since 2006.

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?


> One replacement of the cord generates more plastic waste than the entirety of the airpods I use.

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.


People keep mentioning this point and I'm a little confused. In 2020 a non-user-replaceable battery seems to be the standard situation for all my electronics, not just AirPods. I'm not saying it's a good thing I just don't get why this criticism tends to mostly come up around AirPods.


With wired headphones, people can keep them for years, decades even. Many of the popular sets of 'serious' headphones have been around for over a decade.

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.


> With wired headphones, people can keep them for years, decades even.

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.


Conversely I have had multiple pairs of Sennheiser and Audiotechnicas for over 5 years now, all with wires, and they are still work phenomenally. I have used them as daily drivers (I keep the Audiotechnicas at work, and my Senn HDs are for the commute, flights, hanging out at home, etc) and they still produce amazing sound quality and I only had to replace a cable once and buy one set of ear-cups (I like over ears not in-ears).

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 can vouch for AKG myself. I've been using a pair of K530 LTD headphones daily for 11,5 years now. Sound never changed. The velvet pads and the leather band are still intact. Only the letters of the logo have come off. I reckon they aren't even of the supposedly better built made-in-Austria series.


Sennheiser has a cable and earpad replacement program, last I checked (which was admittedly years ago). They aren't the type of company to rely on planned obsolescence in order to make more sales.


My Teufel headphones also prided themselves on having a replaceable cable, but that doesn't help if the internal wiring breaks and one half of the headphone goes silent.

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.


My Sennheiser HD25s are over 20 years old and going strong.


you might want to consider Beyerdynamics 990 Pro, insane sound quality, and built like a tank (steel headband!)


770s better for everyday use as they are closed back.


>With wired headphones, people can keep them for years, decades even.

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.


> With wired headphones, people can keep them for years, decades even.

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.


I have a $25 (normally $50) pair of headphones that have a replaceable cable and aluminum housings, which have been through multiple laundry cycles and a lot of abuse that look and sound just as good as the day I got them. I'd honestly be more concerned about losing or stepping on a TWS earbud given the plastic construction and lack of attachments.

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.


Yes the product with the magical qualities of being cheap, serviceable, great quality, and durable. Super common in consumer electronics. I can understand why you don't mention brand name because you'd definitely want to keep such an item under wraps before it gets sold out then see price hikes as tens of millions of people who desire exactly such a thing flock to it.

Even IF such a magical product exists, I would still buy the AirPods because not having cables is exactly the reason I wanted them.


They are the Tin Audio T2, they were sold out when they launched and are pretty universally lauded in audiophile circles, especially after they fixed initial issues with the connectors.

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.


I'm not even sure why you think these products are comparable. The Tin Audio headphones can't even make phone calls and don't even have an inline remote. They are basically dumb drivers. If that's what you are looking for then rad, you have the right thing, but that's not what Airpods are.

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.


Well generally in the AirPod range of price, you'll run into quality headphones with those features.


my understanding was they are non-replaceable batteries, period. Apple doesn't replace the batteries on AirPods, just recycles the AirPod and provides a new one.


>recycles

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


Does an Android device that is almost immediately abandoned without software or security updates take up less space in the landfill?


I don't think the user you replied to said anything about Android being better...


> almost immediately abandoned

Source?


Most android phones only receive 1 or 2 years of updates since release, not when you buy the phone. If you get it 2 years after it was originally released, chances are you have at most 1 year of security updates and little chance of getting a newer version of Android. https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/24/18019356/android-securit...

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


Nothing is going to change on that front until government mandates minimum lifetime for equipment.

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.


Ending is better than mending!


Sooner or later we'll get laws saying that each electronic device MUST have a replaceable battery.

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.


I don't want one of the few gadgets I buy every four years legislated into an impossible form factor by environmental concerns. It seems like the most unfair implementation compared to, say, raising the price of things to price in externalities.

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.


I can't see how it would be possible to build something in the AirPods form factor with replaceable batteries. So any such device would have to be substantially larger (possibly to the point where it would no longer be comfortable to wear, or to carry the charging case in a pocket).

And from my experience, wired headphones tend to break after a couple of years as well, for different reasons.


So this tweeter's estimate is that it's still bigger than AMD, Spotify, Square, Twitter, Snapchat, and Shopify, just not combined. And not bigger than Adobe or Nvidia.

And now we have two attention-seeking Airpods revenue stories instead of one.


Pretty sure that the comments I read on HN yesterday said more or less the same thing.


I think the key issue is that it wasn't taken down? So good that the commenters know it's wrong, but they just changed the title which doesn't solve the problem.


Apple doesn't release any AirPod sales figures, so all analysis is going to include a margin of error.

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?


It seems more that there are different analyses done that come to different conclusions, as Apple hasn’t released the full revenues by product line.


That was my first thought when I saw the inital observations.

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.


Valuations follow a power law distribution and the estimate was off by only a factor of 2, which is basically equal as far as power laws are concerned. So the assertions basically hold.

Twitter annualized revenue from Q419 is $3bn. Spotify 19Q2 revenue annualized is $6bn.


The comments yesterday said the same thing. However what I took away from that article was that AirPods are you really successful and that their revenue exceeds many unicorns individually. Bluetooth heating tools have been recognized as a real need for a long time and Apple enters the market really late and takes over with perfect design and execution creating a new market segment in the process.


The first thing I noticed about the previous article was how truly terrible the numbers were on that article. Everything from the assumed ASP of the iPhone to the total sales were complete nonsense, end easily verifiable as such. Neil Cybart is pretty biased towards Apple, but his numbers game has always been spot on and he's completely correct here.

One of the big problems with the modern web is how quickly mis-information get amplified and how corrections get muffled.


Basically, everyone's just estimating. The original chart assumes 60M pairs of AirPods sold according to Kuo's estimates with an ASP of $200, while the author of the "correction" tweet is citing his own estimates at 35M pairs sold at an ASP of $162.

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 don't know how people don't lose these daily and that they don't end up going through the washing machine.


Speaking personally, I treat them like the expensive items that they are. They are in my ears, or they are in their case, full stop. Oh, I sometimes think I'll just stick them in my pocket, I won't forget. "Eh, that's how shit gets lost; stick 'em in the case."

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.


I can't say they're never lost--just last week I saw a single AirPod sitting on a table going through airport security--but as a user of both the AirPods and AirPods Pro, I have more easily lost wired earbuds than these.

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.


Why does the case remove the risk of washing machines?


A small thing in a pocket is much more likely to go unnoticed into the washing machine than a large thing.


Unless you're already this clutzy with your wallet and phone, I don't see how expensive headphones that you frequently use enough to keep on you is going to be any different.


The basic story from that post still holds if AirPods revenue is actually between 7.5B - 15B last year.


Neil Cybart is an independent Apple analyst. His models track relatively closely to reported quarterly earnings. He is also very bullish on AirPods.


AirPods are the product I’ve never wanted, at a cost I don’t want to pay. I have a five year old IPhone. Lightning jack is almost broken, but the headphone jack works like a charm. It’s the only reason why I haven’t bought a new Iphone yet. I just don’t want to give in to Apple’s marketing in this case.


The title needs to be changed


Sadly this person is just pushing their own blog, and if you get suckered into following the link, you'll find no sources for their claims either. All you get is the line: "the math checks out with Apple management’s commentary and clues provided on the 4Q19 earnings conference call". Um, ok. Supposedly there is more information behind the paywall for their subscription service, but we'll never know.

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.


Glad this was pointed out. That felt weird reading yesterday.


The article just got absolutely destroyed on Twitter: https://twitter.com/neilcybart/status/1214867813464236032


You just regurgitated the link to TFA (or more accurately, The Fine Twitter Thread).


Off topic: Very surprising to know that AirPods cost $250, $150 a piece and that people are willing to buy them.

Also, if they are detached from the iphone, wouldn't you lose them pretty easily?


I own Samsung Galaxy buds, rather than Airpods but the logic is the same (the audio quality is worse though).

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.


They should live in the case when they’re not in your ears. I’ve never lost mine.


You should try them. They are a great product. I didn't get it, and now I do.


Anyone else get creeped out and realize just deep and tangled our mindsets are when reading these articles lauding consumer products? The biggest and best companies are all laser focused on producing as much throw away consumer crap as they can while we are hurtling towards catastrophic climate destruction. These write ups lauding the innovative business strategies of convenient, throw-away luxury items feels like anesthetic. The world's on fire and the best and brightest have fatalistic attitudes towards doing anything meaningful and we're just heaping on more tinder.


Stopping climate change is mostly a political problem, not a technical one. An extremely difficult one since it requires collective action from the entire world. Even when it is a technical problem, it's not clear to me that software developers have anything productive to add to the research in this area that isn't already being done (renewable energy R&D, geo-engineering).

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.




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