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The AirPods effect: 'Everyone' wants to be Apple and beat Apple - Times of India

13 January 2020

“The sight of a grown man strolling down the street, proudly 'hands free', with electric toothbrush heads glued to his ears is not a dignified one,” was how one tech commentator described the AirPods ‘boom’ in 2018. Remember that this was a time when there was just a solitary variant of AirPods in the market and there was a clamour for a new one. Apple answered that clamour in 2019 with not just one but two new variants of AirPods. Since then the ‘not-so-dignified' sight has become wildly common, thanks to the AirPods (2019) and the AirPods Pro selling like hot cakes. And these sightings are set to get even more common as every brand worth its salt has now launched — or is in the process of launching — their own AirPods rivals. Don’t believe us?

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2020, true wireless earbuds were amongst the most launched product. JBL, Audio Technica, Harman Kardon, Klipsch, Panasonic and we can go on but you get the drift. If that weren’t enough then in the last couple of months — since the launch of AirPods Pro — Realme, Phillips and Oppo have thrown their hat in the ring. No surprises for guessing that Xiaomi too has its version of AirPods look-alike — Mi AirDots Pro — in China. Even OnePlus is said to be working on launching AirPod-like headphones. Brands that do not lie in the audio product category per se such as MSI and AmazFit have showcased their versions of wireless earbuds.



If 2019 were to go down as the year of the AirPods then 2020 is set to be the year of how to be Apple and beat Apple at the AirPods game.

What’s fuelling the true wireless headphones ‘hysteria’?

Almost on a daily basis, we see reports that suggest what a massive hit these truly wireless earphones are as some even analysts even claiming that this product category is going to be generating more revenue -- in a quarter -- than some of the biggest technology companies, including Twitter and Snap.



It’s this mass ‘hysteria’ the AirPods — especially the Pro — have generated that may have prompted audio giants and tech brands to get a slice of the pie. While Apple has managed to completely corner the market, other brands — especially audio brands that have had a legacy of many years — are working in full swing to change the landscape of the wireless earphones product category. A report by IDC in December 2019 stated that "Hearables have become the new go-to product for the wearables market". In other words, the real action lies in the true wireless earbuds market. IDC also stated that 50% of the total "wearable" shipments -- including smartwatches and fitness bands -- are now essentially headphones. This particular market has seen a staggering 94.3% growth in the last one year, as per IDC report.



Getting ‘inspired’ by Apple is one of the most common trends we see in the industry. Although the iPhone-maker is not often the first one to launch a new product, its whole ‘perfecting the product’ approach makes others notice and that’s when we see others taking the same approach. iPhone features like TouchID, FaceID, notch are some of the examples that lend credence to this idea.



Last month we saw Realme’s first wireless earbuds — Realme Buds Air — that looked quite similar to the Apple AirPods (second-generation) in India. Oppo’s Enco earbuds also look heavily inspired by the AirPods



For all the jokes that were cracked at the expense of the AirPods — toothbrush, ugly earrings, et al — at the end of the day it’s Apple that has been laughing all the way to the bank. Others are now making a beeline to join in the fun and that’s the real AirPods effect.




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