Apple dominated the news and social media feeds this week. While the much awaited iPhone 15 dominated news, social media feeds were cluttered with the Apple Mother Nature advertising film that trumpeted the company’s achievements in the area of sustainability. Somewhere, in a noise-cancelled corner of Apple’s headquarters, one business continues to dominate the airwaves. Apple has literally created a multi-billion dollar business out of slim air(pods). Selling in the range of INR 24,000 for a pair in markets like India, Apple nearly shipped 85 million sets in 2022, according to news reports.The global True Wireless Stereo (TWS) Earbuds market, of which Airpods is a significant part, is growing and how. The global market size is expected to reach USD 243.9 billion by 2028, rising at a market growth of 34.6 per cent (CAGR). Just to understand how much the business has grown, it was at USD 16.7 billion in 2018 (a year and half after Apple introduced Airpods somewhere in 2016).
Apple’s airpods business invites frequent comparisons with larger-than-life tech brands. In 2022, Airpods as a business continued to be larger than leading tech-led brands like Spotify, Airbnb, Twitter (now, X) or Snapchat. See table:
Airpods 14.5 bn USD
Spotify 13.05 bn USD
Airbnb 8.4 bn USD
Twitter 5.22 bn USD
Snapchat 4.6 bn USD
But there’s a present and omnipotent danger in your midst. According to The Atlantic, a great war is raging across homes in America – hearing the words of your favourite entertainment show, while being bedazzled with the visual and audio special effects. The article quotes an internal study by OTT platform Roku stating that 58 per cent of its subscribers use subtitles – 36 per cent do so because of a diagnosed hearing impairment. While screen fatigue induced sleep deprivation has occupied a lot of mindspace, the effect of gadgets on our eyes has somehow found mass acceptance, with vision correction being the new normal. Soon hearing impairment will get there, unless it already has.
Apple’s sustainability mission needs to factor in other parts; like sustaining the sense organs that help humans see and hear, as a starting point. Else, there might soon be no takers for these noise cancelling Airpods. In a hearing impaired world, noise might cancel itself out of the equation.
(The author is the editor of ETBrandEquity.com. This weekly column offers a sneak peek into the discussions, debates and introspection in our editorial team.)
Most Read in Marketing