Why Apple’s AirPods came to be everywhere

“Look to your left. Look to your right. If you’re on the sidewalk, a subway, a train, or your dorm couch; at a WeWork, an airport, a construction site, or an open-plan office, there are almost certainly little white sticks nearby poking out of someone’s head,” Jon Wilde writes for GQ. “Apple’s AirPods have slowly and all at once taken over America’s ears.”

“One industry analyst estimated last winter that up to 16 million AirPods were sold in 2018—and predicted that Apple could sell 55 million this year, and up to 110 million in 2020,” Wilde writes. “The numbers seem to insinuate that AirPods might be Apple’s best-selling product.”

MacDailyNews Note: No. Apple sold 217.72 million iPhone units in 2018 alone.

“If you have a pair (as I do), you probably swear by them (as I do). If you don’t, you’re probably wondering why everyone got the memo and you didn’t. Particularly because, back when AirPods launched two-plus years ago (with the iPhone 7—miss u home button), they were mildly polarizing,” Wilde writes. “I asked Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, why he thought the AirPods at first left everyone looking like a puppy staring at a butterfly.”

New AirPods build on the magical experience customers love delivering 50 percent more talk time, hands-free “Hey Siri” and the option of a new Wireless Charging Case.
New AirPods build on the magical experience customers love delivering 50 percent more talk time, hands-free “Hey Siri” and the option of a new Wireless Charging Case.

“‘I think this was common on the initial reaction to the AirPods—it’s a reaction based on an academic understanding of them, rather than a practical daily understanding of them,’ said Ive. ‘What we tend to focus on are those attributes that are easy to talk about, and just because we talk about them doesn’t mean that they’re the important attributes. All that means is they’re the ones that are easy to talk about,'” Wilde writes. “We’ve had 17 years with white cords dangling from our ears, and AirPods look like someone’s run up and snipped ’em with scissors. I know I felt sheepish the first time I walked out the door, AirPods dangling from my lobes. I was A Dude Who Bought Those Apple Earbuds.”

“But AirPods have also altered the expectations of how increasingly complex headphones and intensely complex smartphones should work together, on your behalf. They’ve done what no other Bluetooth headphones ever had: make Bluetooth not suck (assuming you have an iPhone)” Wilde writes. “This is, I think, the reason for the slow path to everywhereness that Apple’s AirPods have taken… They may be the best-selling product Apple makes right now [They’re not; iPhone is. – MDN Ed.], but they’re also the ones that most require word-of-mouth, or a leap of faith.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Actually, the product that Apple makes that “most require[s] word-of-mouth, or a leap of faith” has been the same for 35 years: The Macintosh.

But, nice article, anyway.

Of course, the reason why AirPods took a while to catch on (besides Apple, as usual, not having anywhere near enough supply for – seemingly – ever) was the typical mocking garbage that went viral due to the illogical Apple-haters of the world who, despite routinely being proven wrong, continue to hope against hope that Apple’s next product or service won’t be adopted by hundreds of millions of users. For example:

Who’s laughing now?

As for the AirPods looking alien: Tape a pair of wires on the ends of each and you’ll see that they look very much like the type of earphones that everyone is very used to seeing by now (which, for those who remember, we weren’t used to seeing before iPod – people thought those looked “alien,” too). We’ll all get used to the lack of wires soon enough.MacDailyNews, September 14, 2016

AirPods with Wireless Charging Case delivery date quickly slips into April – March 20, 2019
What we know about the H1 chip in Apple’s new AirPods – March 20, 2019
Apple’s new, 2nd-gen. AirPods offer lower latency for mobile gaming – March 20, 2019
Apple reveals second generation AirPods with new Apple-designed H1 chip – March 20, 2019
Apple reinvents the wireless headphone with AirPods – September 7, 2016


  1. I just pray they are safe, but with that, I can tell you that at my kids elementary school, Kids to 6th grade, it went from seeing NONE on kids prior to this Christmas to seeing them on MANY kids now! Yes, seemingly overnight, I called it a trend the other day, it is, somehow it became a statement.
    So fine, COOL.. That means parents are buying for their kids, (mine are up my ass about getting the new ones already) and kids can do only one thing with these, LOSE THEM! ha,,, I’m glad I have enough stock to not care.

  2. One of the best Apple products that I have bought in a while.
    Resolved the issues I had with bluetooth earphones (sound quality, battery life, fit and longevity).
    Near perfect except for the fact that they don’t come in black. 2nd gen on order.

  3. Junk product. 2 years of life for $160 and then throw away. I’ll keep my wired headphones. People need to stop falling for the $150- $350 throw away headphones with no replaceable batteries. IT’s a real blow to the environment. I have a pair of 15+ year old Bose headphones. No land fill junk here and they just keep chugging along.

    1. Would be nice if the battery was replaceable. I figured someone would have figured out how to do it by now. But when you think about a product’s environmental impact, you have to think about what it replaced. It replaced a lot of those stupid bluetooth earpieces. How many of those stupid things does everyone have. Those things didn’t have replaceable batteries, didn’t last, and didn’t work that well. Had to keep the phone on the same side of your body as the earpiece, etc. And none of the other bluetooth sports headphones I’ve seen have replaceable batteries. Do any?

      1. KenC I have a whole drawer full of apple wired ear buds. I them in my cars, truck, RV and they work great. No worry about batteries, not garbage in landfills and I suspect they will continue to work many years after your ear pods are in the land fill.

        I also believe only Sony you can replace the battery fairly easily as it’s one of their standard batteries and not soldiered on.

        At $150 you’d expect better.

    2. I’ve bought multiple earphones for running and thrown out most of them because they last only a few months.
      The only exception was the Jaybirds and the EarPods. The former were very robust and battery life was good, However the fit in my ear was not good and the sounds highly dependent on inserting deep into the ear.
      The EarPods are by far the most consistent sound I’ve heard and the lack of a wire between left and right is far easier to use.
      After 2 years of good use, the batteries do have reduced capacity but I can still run for 2 hours on a charge. Remember you can always recharge in 5 mins to extend that out further.
      Also you can get the batteries replaced by Apple.

  4. I own a pair, like them, but can’t keep them on, in or around my ears. I have tried a few 2nd party around the ear holders, but none that I would completely trust outdoors for even slow paced walking.

    My ears, say no to the pods.

    1. Same for me. I’d be happy to buy them but they just don’t fit. No pair of Apple earbuds ever has. When I get a new phone I give away the included buds.

  5. It’s amusing how they were marked for failure by analysts and Apple critics before the first units were even sold. Supposedly, they looked stupid due to the way they stuck out of the ears. Oh, well… predicting the future accurately has always been difficult. Fortunately, for Apple, those AirPods became an iconic design and easily recognizable.

  6. Kids mostly beg their parents to buy them things, but my experience is that the things kids save their money for to buy themselves since their parents refuse, was first the iPod touch, and now AirPods. iPhones were too expensive to save for, so those were hand-me-downs. Anyway, that’s my experience. I figured AirPods wouldn’t be a hit because the kids want to look cool, but then I realized they wanted to copy their heroes, and all the athletes and celebs can be seen wearing AirPods, so it was only a matter of time.

  7. I find that I forget that they are in my ears when the music stops and I can go for hours with them silently in the ears. I wish Apple would make them beep when there is no signal for x amount of minutes as a reminder to take them out.

  8. Had my AirPods for over a year and liked but not loved them. Today, I received my Bang & Olafsen E8’s (earbuds are the same as the new Ver. 2.0) and they really put the AirPods to shame with their deeper base, and clearer mid- and high-range sounds especially in classical music whether it be Opera, Orchestral, or single instrument and Piano/Organ. But, I have to admit for the price, the AirPods served their purpose for the year I had them, but I would never, ever go back to them now that I have the E8’s. In fact, I may now purchase the Ver. 2.0 Charging Case for Wireless Charging or better yet, USB-C charging ($200).

    I never said that B&O made cheap equipment. And these E8’s are equal if not better than the Sennheiser Momentum’s.

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