When they were first introduced in late 2016, Apple's AirPods were a bit of a joke. Too small, too expensive, too similar looking to the old ones and way too easy to lose – is what a lot of people said. Despite that, AirPods managed to go from internet joke, to status symbol, making Apple another fortune along the way.
Some experts estimate sales generated by AirPods to be at $12bn mark. That might feel a bit out of touch, but even some of the lower estimates, such as the $7.3bn reported by Wired, would make AirPods a truly enormous business in their own right. For some context, Spotify, the leader in global music streaming, made$7.6bn of revenue in 2019.
A consensus among analysts that follow Appleis that they sold 60 million sets of AirPods in 2019, with some expecting shipments to hit 100m this year, more units sold in year 4 than the iPhone and the iPad.
Underpinning all of this is of course the Apple ecosystem, an installed base of 900 million iPhones, not to mention Macs, iPads and Apple watches. Once you're in the Apple universe, it's hard to break out, and even easier for Apple to upsell you on its other products.