AirPods haven’t taken the headphone market by storm … yet

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AirPods sales
Apple's AirPods were super-rare upon their launch.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Tim Cook has called the AirPods a “runaway success,” but what this means in terms of wireless headphone market share remains to be seen.

A previous report from Slice Analytics claimed that Apple’s new headphones captured a whopping 26 percent for wireless headphone sales in December. However, analysts at NDP Group think the real number is significantly lower — like, in the 2 percent to 3 percent range.

Why the difference?

While analysts frequently disagree with one another, a difference of this scale is unusual. According to NDP, though, it is likely because Slice focuses on online purchases (and ignores brick-and-mortar retail sales).

Don’t get us wrong: Capturing 2 percent (by units) and 3 percent (by value) of a new market within your first month is still pretty darn impressive. But it’s not enough to dethrone established rivals, including Bose (8 percent unit sales, 19 percent in dollars), LG (10 percent unit sales, 7 percent dollars), Sony (7 percent and 6 percent) and Plantronics and Jaybird (both around 2 percent).

The Apple-owned Beats currently leads the market with 25 percent market share in unit sales and 46 percent in dollars.

To me, these numbers make a whole lot more sense (although was there really that much difference in online versus brick-and-mortar availability?). The AirPods have been generally well-reviewed, but they’ve also been in short supply. Delayed for a lengthy period of time, they finally arrived in Apple stores just prior to Christmas — only to almost immediately sell out at every Apple store worldwide.

Have you picked up a pair of new AirPods yet? Leave your comments below.