Apple’s AirPods are dominating the wireless earphone market. Since launching in December last year, Apple’s AirPods have accounted for 85 per cent of over 900,000 wireless earbud sales in the US. According to industry analyst Retail Tracking Service, Apple’s success in the market is down to brand resonance, disruptive pricing and excitement surround the W1 chip used in the Apple product.
"With a use case centering on frictionless access to Siri and other tasks initiated by voice, AirPods really act as an extension of the iPhone," said NPD executive director Ben Arnold, calling Apple’s wireless earbuds "a computing device for the ear."
But it hasn’t been plain sailing for the AirPods. In September 2016, Apple unveiled the AirPods and was criticised for a number of reasons including form factor, connectivity issue, and shipment delays. However it has now ironed out any issues and manufacturing is finally keeping up with the growing demand. The problems were quickly ironed out and within a month of launch, the $159 Apple AirPods captured a market share of 26 per cent.
And as Apple’s Siri is set to gain enhancements with the launch of iOS 11, he company’s AirPods are likely to become an even more attractive proposition going forward. But it is not just Apple looking to incorporate its smart assistant into earphones. As Alexa skills and other voice-first content diversifies, headphones, including totally wireless earbuds, are the leading candidate to be the next piece of hardware to drive digital assistant adoption. The like of Samsung and Bragi are already working on Alexa-enabled earbuds to take on the AirPods dominance.
"For these products, audio quality remains important, but takes a backseat to new capabilities added on top of the sound experience," said Arnold. "With this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine a collection of mobile apps optimized for a voice interface similar to the growing ecosystem of Alexa skills."