Slice Intelligence made headlines when it suggested that Apple’s AirPods captured a 26% share of the wireless headphone market within a short time of going on sale. Together with a Beats share of around 15%, that put Apple at a combined total of 40%.

Today, however, NPD says those numbers paint a misleading picture, and the true market share captured by AirPods is more like 2% by volume and 3% by value. There is, it says, a simple explanation for the huge apparent discrepancy …

As CNET reports, Slice data – which relies on analysing the email receipts of its 4.2M-strong panel – only records online sales. NPD data, in contrast, also captures bricks-and-mortar sales. The company says that Beats leads the market with a 25% market share by volume, and an impressive 46% by volume.

  • Beats had a 25 percent share (unit sales) and a 46 percent share (dollar sales)
  • Apple had a 2 percent share (unit sales) and 3 percent share (dollar sales)
  • Bose had 8 percent (unit sales) and 19 percent (dollar sales)
  • LG had 10 percent (unit sales) and 7 percent (dollar sales) with Sony at 7 percent (unit sales) and 6 percent (dollar sales)
  • Plantronics and Jaybird were at around 2 percent unit sales each 

However, says NPD, that is not to make light of Apple’s achievement with the launch of its fully-wireless in-ear headphones.

Apple being able to capture 2 percent of the market in units and 3 percent in dollars with one product in its debut month is significant, given how big the headphone market is.

Apple is already neck-and-neck with [Plantronics and Jaybird] after only one partial month of sales.

NPD also notes that Beats managed to match the growth of the total wireless headphone market to maintain its impressive market share.

Apple is heavily promoting AirPods with three separate ads. The majority of 9to5Mac readers who decided against buying them cited price as the main reason.


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