AirPods are Apple’s second-fastest-selling new product of all time

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AirPods have been a massive smash hit for Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

AirPods are Apple’s second-best-selling new product of all time, a new report by Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart suggests.

Cybart estimates that Apple is on track to sell 40 million pairs of AirPods in 2019. That represents almost 90 percent year-over-year growth. While impressive, this is nothing compared to the interest expressed through Google searches — which leaped up 500 percent last holiday season.

The detailed report, which is well worth a read, notes:

“There are already at least 25 million people wearing AirPods. This total will likely exceed 50 million people later this year. These are massive sales and adoption figures for a two-year old product that has never received an update and rarely goes on sale for less than its $159 selling price.”

The most popular Apple product out of the gate was the iPad. While the iPhone went on to become Apple’s most important tech product, the iPad actually saw a bigger surge of early sales.

On a cumulative basis, Cybart writes that AirPods are currently outpacing Apple Watch sales by 40 percent at the same point after launch.

AirPods: A viral hit for Apple

The most interesting thing about the AirPods is that they’ve gone “viral” in a way that few other Apple products have. Any readers who remember the classic days of the iPod will be aware of how iconic Apple’s white earbuds were at the time. They conveyed an air of exclusive cool that made them instantly recognizable.

Apple’s ad agency clearly realized this, leading to the famous “dancing silhouette” ad campaign. AirPods tap into this same idea.

Cybart writes that several components worked together to make AirPods so popular:

“High Visibility. AirPods are literally hanging out of people’s ears. They are nearly impossible to miss when worn. Since the lack of wires make AirPods useful for outdoors activities including walking and running, they are bound to be seen in people’s ears while out and about. AirPods sightings have seemingly grown exponentially in recent months. Meanwhile, an Apple Watch is easily covered by long sleeves or jackets. In cold weather climates, Apple Watch visibility is reduced to indoor settings for months at a time.

New and Different. AirPods, although a successor to wired headphones, look very different without the wire. The product also stands out from other wireless headphones. In some ways, Apple designers didn’t try to hide the fact that AirPods lack wires. The product is intriguing, sparking curiosity.

Social Signaling. Wearing white EarPods signaled to others that an iPod, or eventually an iPhone, was found in the wearer’s pocket. Similarly, wearing AirPods signal to others that the wearer likely has an iPhone and is able to pay $159 for a pair of wireless headphones despite a wired pair being included in the iPhone box.”

New AirPods coming soon

Apple reportedly has new AirPods on the way in early 2019. These are rumored to include Hey Siri support, new health-monitoring functions, noise cancellation and water-resistance. A report yesterday added that they could also boast a new, more grippable coating and a black color option. A full redesign is supposedly on its way in 2021.

Are you an AirPods user? What do you think of them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.