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Apple’s AirPods are just an accessory, right? Sure. But if you look at the numbers, the success of the wireless headphones, AirPods start to look like something different.
Tech blogger Kevin Rooke recently penned a piece analyzing AirPods’ success. And in it, he paints a picture of a business segment that’s currently booming — and will likely grow significantly in the years to come.
AirPods: Apple’s Current ‘Big Thing’
The thing with AirPods is that, despite being wildly successful and critically well-reviewed, they’re still easily seen as an accessory or an “add-on” to an iPhone. And they are.
But their success, and their impact on Apple’s bottom line, has far surpassed what once were likely humble expectations.
As Rooke points out, Apple doesn’t share individually unit sales for AirPods or its other accessories. But in 2017, analysts estimated that Apple sold about 15 million AirPods throughout the year. The next year, it was an estimated 35 million units.
Fast forward to 2019, and Apple is estimated to have sold about 60 million units, between AirPods and AirPods Pro. That represents year-over-year growth of 123 percent between 2017 and 2018, and another 128 percent between 2018 and 2019.
The numbers don’t stop there. If Apple sold an even split of first- and second-generation AirPods, as well as AirPods Pro in 2019, it would have made $12 billion throughout 2019.
And while AirPods only represents a small portion of the company’s total revenue, it’s important to note that Apple is a gargantuan $1.3 trillion tech company. When you start comparing AirPods to other tech companies, the results are much more impressive.
According to Kevin Rooke, if AirPods was its own startup or business, it would make more money than Spotify, Twitter, Snap and Shopify combined. While it makes just slightly less than Uber currently, its rate of growth suggests that it could soon surpass the ride-hailing giant.
Apple’s Future Success
There’s a good chance that AirPods will continue to grow and contribute to Apple’s revenue and growth. But AirPods are only one part of the equation.
It’s becoming clearer that accessory-type devices and wearables are going to be an increasingly important segment for Apple. One of the company’s other recent success stories, Apple Watch, is one such wearable.
When you throw augmented reality, rumors of a SiriOS, and long-standing reports of head-worn wearables into the mix, AirPods’ success becomes much more interesting — and a potential roadmap for Apple itself in the coming years.
As the reign of the iPhone comes to an end, Apple sectors like Services will eventually become more important. But if AirPods are any indication, it’s also likely that accessories and wearables will continue to play a huge role in Apple’s future success.