From Nay to Yay: The Journey of the Meme-Worthy AirPods

Once upon a time, I vowed to never get AirPods. This week, I grabbed the last box off the shelf at the Apple store so I wouldn’t have to wait for the restock. I got AirPods, and it’s been “mildly life-changing” (as my friend described so accurately). 

Even saying that aloud to myself sounds absolutely dramatic, but it’s true. Gone are the days when I would do burpees with a phone in my hand at the gym. Gone are the days when I would blast my YouTube videos on my Alexa while blowdrying my hair. Gone are the days when I would have to lean ridiculously close to the iPhone speakers during a call with a friend (while multitasking, of course). I know it is only the end of January and I have only had them for three days, but this is hands-down my favorite purchase of 2019. 

My feelings summed up in a short iMessage exchange

AirPods were introduced in Apple’s Keynote event in September 2016. With features like 24-hour battery life, its magnetic charger-case and clear playback quality, the company claims that AirPods are “magical headphones [that] use advanced technology to reinvent…providing a wireless audio experience not possible before”.  

The initial reactions to this release were less-than-ideal. Feeling underwhelmed and skeptical, a large group of people claimed that AirPods are ugly and would easily be lost without the cord. Memes began to emerge and quickly spread across social media platforms, making fun of their appearance and wireless feature. 

Despite overwhelming amounts of hilarious tweets and comments, they did not seem to stop AirPods’ performance on the market. After the AirPods officially dropped in December 2016, the sales were at an impressive 16 to 18 million in 2017 . Even though Apple’s annuals sales report has not been released yet, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates that the company sold between 26 to 28 million pairs in the year of 2018. With an anticipated release for AirPods 2 this year, he further claims that sales would likely quintuple over the next couple years. That is absolutely insane. 

With the AirPod’s stellar performance, it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that there was a time when AirPods weren’t part of popular culture, when people were afraid to look stupid walking down the street with them (hence the “Courage” tweet). 

However, given the company’s history, it is definitely not surprising how the reception for the AirPods went from nay to yay.  Apple has been known for revolutionizing the electronic industry when it rose to become the world’s first trillion dollar company with the iPod. With Apple’s fearless approach to technological advancement and design changes, it’s understandable why something as different as AirPods would be negatively received at first. I was surprised to learn its history traced way back in 2011, when former Apple Designer Jorge S Fino filed a patent for earphones that could work with or without wires. How was he able to predict that such a feature would have such roaring success?

Considering all the different success factors that the AirPods may have, being the product of a  trend-setting company perhaps plays a significant role. After all, Apple did manage to convert me into a huge advocate of these darn things. 

One Reply to “From Nay to Yay: The Journey of the Meme-Worthy AirPods”

  1. Hey JT! This was an incredibly well written article that, frankly, made me really stop and think about the power Apple has in the trends and technologies we use with music. Without question, Apple has been a leading force in people’s transition from wired to wireless headphones and I think that without the creation of the AirPods, a lot of people (especially Apple users) would still be using wired earphones. I absolutely love the style and the freedom that you put into your writing; it creates a casual tone that relaxes me and keeps me reading. The only critic that I have about the article is that I wish there was just a little more background on the function and groundbreaking design of wireless headphones. What were some challenges in creating these earphones that, when solved, ultimately made this the technology of the future? Other than that, this was an awesome post and I need to try to get these AirPods!

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