unveiled the first generation AirPods in 2016, they were greeted with equal amounts of praise, criticism and ridicule. Their distinctive look quickly turned them into the butt of countless jokes, most of them involving people with toothbrushes sticking out of their ears. Three years later, Apple can confidently laugh these jokes off, knowing that the AirPods turned into a huge success that immediately propelled Apple to the top of the then nascent wireless earphone market.
Moreover, the AirPods were one of the first products of an entirely new category, namely hearables, that includes earworn devices that do more than delivering stereo sound, e.g. connecting its user to a smart assistant, tracking fitness or translating languages in real time.
According to estimates from IDC
, Apple dominates this category to this day. In Q2, Apple (including Beats) shipped 15.9 million such devices, leading its closest competitors Samsung (3.3 million) and Xiaomi (2.1 million) by a huge margin. Total shipments in the hearables category amounted to 31.8 million in the second quarter, up from just 9.1 million in Q2 2018.