Apple’s AirPods are becoming a platform

AirPods Pro bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new lightweight, in-ear design.
AirPods Pro bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new lightweight, in-ear design.

Neil Cybart for Above Avalon:

If AirPods were magical, AirPods Pro are supernatural. Apple’s newest pair of AirPods continues to make waves with “augmented hearing” entering people’s vocabulary. However, the broader implications found with Apple’s AirPods strategy are just as impressive. Apple is quickly removing all available oxygen from the wireless headphone market, and competitors find themselves at a severe disadvantage. In just three years, AirPods have evolved from an iPhone accessory into the early stages of a platform well positioned to reshape the current app paradigm for the wearables era.

In FY2019, Apple sold 35 million pairs of AirPods at an average selling price (ASP) of $162 (both are my estimates). On a revenue basis, the AirPods business is on a $6 billion per year run rate that is doubling year-over-year… AirPods are trending similarly to iPhone sales when looking at unit sales out of the gate. After three years of sales, Apple has sold 61 million pairs of AirPods on a cumulative basis. During the first three years of sales, Apple sold 60 million iPhones… It’s likely that AirPods sales will exceed 10 million per quarter for the foreseeable future…

Apple is pulling away from the competition when it comes to building mini computers worn on the body. AirPods are computers for the ears. Years of learning how to manufacture 2.1 billion iPhones and iPads is now helping Apple to build nearly 70 million wearable devices per year.

MacDailyNews Take: We are just in the very early stages of augmented hearing advances — augmented reality for the ears — but Apple is certainly in control of the “hearables” market with their massively successful AirPods lineup.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Augmented hearing “sounds” good to me! 😁 But I think this analysis has it a little wrong. The iPhone (and what it evolves into that won’t be called a “phone”) IS the platform. Or more precisely, iPhone is the hub of Apple’s wearable computing ecosystem, with Watch and AirPods Pro as current smart peripherals. Maybe some visual AR device at some point. Third parties can create smart devices under license, including specialized medical devices. Perhaps we can conside iPad as part of this system now, because they (iPad and iPhone) already interacts well in real time. A WiFi-only iPad can share iPhone’s Internet “hot spot” too. Consider it iPhone’s big screen, like connecting a MacBook to large desktop display.

    Bottom line, whatever happens, iPhone will continue to be at the center of the action. I think it will evolve into a much smaller device that provides connectivity and processing power for the system, with users deciding how to flexibly interface with it based on their individual needs and preferences.

    1. So maybe something Raspberry Pi – ish in your pocket with AirPods for audio, and Apple Glasses for video or maybe the raspberry Pi – ish thing continues to be your iPhone, and you’re walking around wearing all the components of your own PAN (personal area network.)

      1. Maybe Steve Jobs had this computing evolution in mind when he picked the name “iPod” 😎 It’s actually a weird non-specific name for device that started out as just a music player. Perhaps he saw it getting video, camera, communication, and Internet functions over time… Continuing to be called “iPod something” 😏 But he realized “iPhone” was a far better name for marketing purposes than something like “iPod phone.” iPod touch is still around, and it’s always been an iPhone minus the phone parts.

        However, I think “iPod” is a great name for a generalized hub device for wearable computing. iMac is a keyboard computer. iPhone is a phone. iPad is a tablet computer. But iPod can become anything 🙂 Maybe it will…

  2. The AirPods will I’m sure play an integral part of the AR glasses platform when it launches, both at least for the initial period working seamlessly through an iPhone no doubt. That’s when we see the power of the A Class and associated chips truly living out their potential. I suspect Tags and likely similar tech will also become integrated peripherals to the wider platform, maybe even beacons too, this is a platform for the future and we are only getting tasters at the moment for its true potential.

  3. Never wear more than one electronic gadget on your body to minimize RF radiation exposure. Should you wear them all, and then the glasses, use the “RF Red Det” app to read the amt., location, total at any moment of exposure, as well as cumulative daily/weekly/monthly exposure.

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