New Data Says AirPods Have Captured Much Smaller Share of Headphone Market Than Earlier Estimates

A report last week by Slice Intelligence suggested that Apple’s AirPods captured an estimated 26 percent share of online revenue in the wireless headphone market since launching on December 13. Ben Arnold, an executive director and industry analyst at NPD Group, has today submitted a report that claims Slice Intelligence’s data “paints an incomplete picture of the wireless headphone market” (via CNET).

According to NPD’s numbers, for all of December Apple captured a 2 percent share of the market in unit sales, and a 3 percent share in overall dollar sales. The discrepancy between the two sets of data lies in the methodology used by each site to gather the information.

Slice Intelligence analyzes the email receipts from a panel of 4.2 million online shoppers, while NPD’s data accounts for both online sales as well as brick-and-mortar transactions. It should also be noted that NPD tracked sales for all of December, while Slice Intelligence accounted only for the period when the AirPods were on sale, December 13-31.

Beats still leads the market in NPD’s data as well, with a 46 percent share in total sales for its line of headphones. The rest of NPD’s December data is as follows:

  • Beats had a 25 percent share (unit sales) and a 46 percent share (dollar sales)
  • Apple had a 2 percent share (unit sales) and 3 percent share (dollar sales)
  • Bose had 8 percent (unit sales) and 19 percent (dollar sales)
  • LG had 10 percent (unit sales) and 7 percent (dollar sales) with Sony at 7 percent (unit sales) and 6 percent (dollar sales)
  • Plantronics and Jaybird were at around 2 percent unit sales each but Apple is already neck-and-neck with them after only one partial month of sales

Arnold noted that Apple’s AirPods launch is still “significant,” despite the lower numbers presented by the NPD, and given how little time the AirPods have been on the market. The analyst also said that in a year where the Bluetooth headphone market grew 51 percent from the previous year, “the fact that Beats was able to maintain share and its position in the market means its sales grew as fast as the market did.”

“Apple being able to capture 2 percent of the market in units and 3 percent in dollars with one product in its debut month is significant, given how big the headphone market is,” Arnold said.

The AirPods have been mostly well-received by users since their December launch, although some have faced consistent battery issues with the device and its charging case. Apple hasn’t released sales figures of its own, but CEO Tim Cook called the AirPods “a runaway success” when asked about the first few weeks of the headphones’ launch in late December.

Tag: AirPods

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