Apple AirPods, scorned initially, but now among the most successful CE product ever

Apple AirPods
Apple AirPods

Brian Santo for IEEE Spectrum:

AirPods are in a class by themselves: You would be hard-pressed to think of another consumer product that went from being so mocked to so many millions sold. “Expensive and easy-to-lose cigarette butts,” one reviewer opined upon first encountering them. AirPods turned out to be so advanced they overcame all those negatives.

For starters, AirPods didn’t (and don’t) fall out anywhere near as often as people originally feared. Not everyone’s earholes are the same shape, and AirPods fit some people better than others. But, generally speaking, for most people they stay put.

Most reviewers agree that among all wireless headphones, AirPods excel when it comes to maintaining a Bluetooth connection with whatever device they’re paired with, and that’s due to the W1… Bluetooth headphones are notorious for occasional interruptions. But such dropouts rarely happen with W1-equipped headphones, users say. Also, earphones and headphones equipped with W1s have pretty good battery life; Apple says that’s a function of superior discharge management, also performed by the W1.’

Apple doesn’t break out sales of AirPods, but a widely cited estimate suggests that it shipped 14 million to 16 million AirPods in 2017. The same analyst believes the company probably doubled its sales of AirPods in 2018 and projects that the number of shipments might be as high as 80 million in 2020.

MacDailyNews Take: AirPods are yet another in a long line of Apple products that were mocked by fools initially, but which went on to become wildly successful!


  1. Where I don’t think AirPods get all the credit they are due is as a telephone “headset” for when you are on the phone. I work from my home and spend more than three hours a day on the phone. The AirPods have a great mic and are so comfortable I forget I have them in. The ability to “rotate” each one in and out of your ear without interrupting your call is just magic. So much better than the uncomfortable, ear sweat inducing headphones I used for YEARS. Love them so much!

    1. The ability to “rotate” each one in and out of your ear without interrupting your call is just magic.

      What does that mean? I don’t have a pair of these and I’m curious. I may get some when the next version comes out. I sometimes spend hours on the phone training customers and I can imagine these being very helpful for that.

  2. Remember the usual gang of idiots who posted their scorn for AirPods on this forum? Just as MDN iCals stupid pundits, they should keep a list of idiot pronouncements from the forum to be highlighted during their next negative predictions. Oh never mind, they’ll just change handles.

  3. Most of the time, the idiots spew the hate before they or anyone else gets a chance to try the product. That’s how biased they are. If they don’t like something, they should just keep it to themselves instead of trying to ruin it for everyone else. I personally didn’t like the look of the cylindrical part that sticks out of the ears, but I figured the design had a purpose and that was to have a greater area for the battery. However, I didn’t go around saying that the design sucks or no one will buy them because of the design. Sometimes, those things just catch on because they’re unusual or stand out from the ordinary. That’s just human nature. It’s just so stupid to call a product a failure or predict it to be a failure because one or two people don’t like it.

    As for AirPods falling out of ears, the NYC subway people claim they are always having to retrieve them after users drop them down on the train tracks. I don’t have any actual figures, but the MTA was making quite a big deal about it happening rather often. I could never wear them due to the shape of my ears. There’s simply no cupping area in my ear. Any ear device designed like AirPods simply doesn’t get any grip. My ear is shaped to the degree as they try to push out an AirPod. I have to wear earphones that are the type I have to press into the ear canal or the type that have a loop to go over the ears.

    1. Ah well, you’re an earhole with a funny shaped one, so it’s a shame your ears won’t fit airpods, but that’s life. at least you’re not Citizen X

  4. More MDN headline tampering.

    MDN says: “now among the most successful CE product ever”

    Brian Santo said: among the most successful EARBUDS ever by unit sales. Not by profits. AND THOSE ARE SALES ESTIMATES, because Apple doesn’t actually publish product sales numbers anymore. Santo estimates that about 2% of iPhone buyers bought Airpods in 2017, the date of his estimates.

    Can you spot the spin?

    When MDN agrees with an analyst, they crank up the presses to praise Apple. When an analyst doesn’t flatter, MDN goes on the personal attack against them.

    I would hardly call a product that achieves 2% of its potential to be revolutionary. But no worries, just wait until the next round of iPhone feature removals. When Apple accomplishes its goal of removing all physical connectors from its iPhone, then consumers will have no choice but to pony up additional cash for bluetooth earphones. Then surely MDN will roll out another round of gushing reports of how wonderful Apple’s wireless headphones are.

    If only they fit and were comfortable. Which they are not for many people!

    Want to know what other revolutionary products are in the IEEE consumer electronics hall of fame?
    – a wireless garage door opener
    – a plasma flat screen television
    – a Tandberg tape deck
    – a class D audio amplifier

    So now you know what group of products MDN considers “among the most successful CE product[s] ever”

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