In 2016 Apple announced the iPhone 7 to the world which was the first iPhone ever with no headphone jack. During that same presentation on the same stage 27 minutes later they unveiled their newest creation air pods. A pair of completely wireless headphones in a convenient magnetic case that pairs instantly with the iPhone.
This solves everyone’s headphone jack problem. On stage they explained that if they want to get to their vision of this totally Wireless future. They have to get rid of the headphone jack. This was the first brave courageous step towards that future but it really comes down to one word courage.
Apple’s Strategy on Air Pods
The courage to move on do something new that betters all of us. They were selling people the solution to a problem that you just created a half an hour earlier. Which was a brilliant way to make a ton of money on top of already making a ton of money.
It’s no secret that Apple makes most of its profit from the iPhone and then things connected to the iPhone. They’ve made services like iCloud Drive, Apple pay, Apple care. All these things that capitalize on the massive customer base that is the iPhone.
To make significantly more money from it, it’s a smart business so this isn’t a new concept for Apple. We’re just now adding dongles and wireless headphones to that list. But of course it doesn’t all work unless it’s at least a pretty good product.
They were definitely not the first wireless earbuds ever. But the combination of the convenience and the little case they came in. And how well they worked with it instant pairing that whole thing made them an instant hit.
Air Pod’s Sales
Of course they were the number one selling headphones in the world a year later. Apple has made around 8 billion dollars from air pods. 8 billion dollars that might not sound like a huge percentage of Apple’s business because it’s not.
But just for some perspective if you broke that off into a separate company and incorporated a new head phone company air pods Inc separate from Apple. That company’s revenues by itself would be enough to be a fortune 500 company.
They’re expected to jump up again in 2020 as iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 owners continue to upgrade. And the headphone jack continues to disappear.
So now as air pod sales are taking off and going to orbit, a lot of the companies that were ridiculing Apple for getting rid of the headphone jack along with you and me, well they took a look at this again and saw that they kind of wanted a piece of that pie.
So they did the same thing. Google, well they made a commercial calling out the headphone jack a year after Apple got rid of theirs then literally the next pixel that came out had no headphone jack. Google pixel buds now exists, oneplus has been known to take their occasional jabs at Apple they made their remarks. But two years after Apple, their new one +6 had no headphone jack and their new wireless bullets headphones appeared as a convenient solution.
Huawei flagships don’t have headphone jacks anymore either but they’ll gladly sell you their new Huawei free buds to set you free of wires. Razors phones also don’t have headphone jacks but you’ll see their new hammerheads wireless earbuds.
Amazon will sell you echo buds, Microsoft has announced their surface buds. Even the essential phone from a company that popped up on the map for one year and made one phone with no headphone jack. Also happened to make a hundred and fifty dollar attachable HD headphone jack adapter that is still listed on their site to this day.
Air Pods Clones
It actually has nothing to do with air pod clones. Even Samsung has been one of the last major holdouts with a headphone jack in the Galaxy S but sure enough they got rid of that headphone jack on the Galaxy Note 10 and the S20. They’ve been pushing galaxy buds that conveniently charge right on the back of the phone that you obviously got them for.
All these are various different prices and have slightly different form factors and feature sets to differentiate them. But they all basically do the same thing which is solve a problem that was just created. The headphone jack is quickly disappearing it’s becoming like an enthusiast feature and you see headlines about when a new headphone jack is included in a phone because it’s sort of a noteworthy thing to see that again.
Of course you now see pretty much every major headphone company in the world scrambling to make their best wireless earbuds to compete. Audio Technica makes a pair, Sony makes a pair, TCL is making a pair. These companies that don’t have a smart phone
to connect it to are just trying to sell you something that you’d reasonably consider buying over air pods for some reason because this is a PI they got to get it on.
On top of all that there’s the whole world of air pods clones. I’m talking about the ones that literally try to make themselves look exactly like air pods in an effort to basically convince you that you’re getting the same thing for less money. These are the ones that are not so well intention-ed. You might have seen these black ear pods floating around or some variant of them.
Problems with Wireless
Everyone is capable of making headphones in some way. They are now making small pocketable, completely wireless earbuds that seal up in a case and connect to your phone. This has some pros and cons of course we all know the downsides. Which are, if you want to listen to music through wired headphones you to carry a dongle everywhere. The quality is substantially worse over Bluetooth audio than wired but also wireless audio is just not great yet.
It’s getting there but if you’ve ever tried to edit a video or music with wireless headphones you know how bad the latency and the lag can get. But because of all that the upside is the same thing that created the downside. Which is that now everyone is trying to make the best possible wireless audio solution the best possible wireless headphones to try to beat air pods.
Everyone is working towards a better world of wireless. The truth really is air pods are Apple’s most successful product since the original iPhone. Who wouldn’t want to copy it and make some money.