Despite criticism, it appears that Apple’s decision to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack might at least be well-timed. According to NPD, Bluetooth wireless headphones exceeded sales revenue of their wired counterparts in the US during the June sales period.
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Bluetooth wireless headphones accounted for 54-percent of headphone dollar sales during the month of June, and 17-percent of unit sales.
NPD states that the entire headphone category saw a seven-percent year-over-year increase in dollar sales, while Bluetooth headphones within that category enjoyed a 42-percent increase during the same time frame.
Reasons for the increase can be partly attributed to lower cost of entry — the average sale price of wireless headphones dipped 5-percent during the first half of 2016 when compared to the first half of 2015. To further emphasize the reduced barrier to entry, over a quarter of all Bluetooth wireless headphone units sold during that period were under $50. Amazon itself is full of cheap wireless Bluetooth headphones from a variety of manufacturers.
Unsurprisingly, brands like Beats, LG, and Bose continue to lead in sales, with companies like Jaybirds, and Skullcandy rounding out the top five. Our own Seth Weintraub recently went hands-on with Bose’s new wireless QuietComfort 35 headphones, and came away impressed.
Additionally, NPD analyst Ben Arnold had this to say about the wireless trend:
“Consumers are already embracing a wireless future and if, as rumored, the headphone jack is removed from the next iPhone, we expect this will continue to drive market share of the Bluetooth category.”
Indeed, if Apple is intending on ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack, and all of the evidence suggests that it will, then its timing appears to be on solid footing. While 17-percent of unit sales shows that the sub-category still has a long way to grow, the iPhone 7 would be a surefire way to help accelerate that growth.
Of course, Lightning headphones, or a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle, will be options for those preferring to stay wired. It seems clear, however, that Apple prefers wireless. Wireless Bluetooth, for all of its issues, has improved over the years, and is much more “Apple-like” in that it lacks unsightly cords that can get tangled, develop shorts, etc.