Apple is already winning the wireless headphones market with AirPods

Despite delays, Apple’s AirPods had a great holiday season according to a new report on wireless headphone online spending over the past several weeks.

The report from Slice Intelligence–which collects its data from hundreds of millions of anonymized e-receipts–found that the $159 AirPods have accounted for more than a quarter of all online wireless headphones revenue since pre-orders for the product launched on December 13.

The report also finds that the AirPods pre-order launch was the biggest day for online headphone sales of the year, outpacing sales on Cyber Monday and Black Friday. A major part of this is no doubt related to the fact that the headphones had a pretty limited launch in retail stores due to low supply caused by manufacturing delays.

Apple already had a major presence in the wireless headphone market previous to the AirPods launch thanks to various wireless models of the company’s Beats headphones. The Slice data shows that in 2015 and 2016, around 24 percent of wireless headphones sold online were Beats-branded.


Headphones are by and large continuing to gain bluetooth connectivity, Slice claims that nearly 75% of headphones purchases bought online this holiday season were of the wireless variety.

Of the many takeaways emerging from CES this year on the consumer hardware front, one of the clearest was that wireless earbuds are in a clear period of growth moving into next year. As more phone manufacturers plot ditching the headphone jack, it seems to be an inevitable direction for the industry to head. The AirPods are some of the most polished wireless earbud solution currently available and are actually a bit cheaper than most options, though they’re still quite expensive.

There really haven’t been any product entrants in the wireless earbud space from legacy audio companies to date, so whether this market position will sustain itself for Apple depends on them innovating the product category itself as they seek to reinvent what all a headphone can really do.