Bluetooth headphone sales surpass others for first time, with Apple's Beats in top spot

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In the U.S., sales of Bluetooth headphones overtook other kinds for the first time in June -- with the market led by Apple's Beats division, according to NPD retail data published on Thursday.




During the first six months of the year, Bluetooth models accounted for 54 percent of dollar sales and 17 percent of unit sales, NPD said. Whereas the U.S. headphone market as a whole grew dollar sales 7 percent year-over-year, Bluetooth figures surged 42 percent.

Together, Beats and second-place LG controlled 65 percent of dollar sales in the first half of 2016. Following behind in the top five were Bose, Jaybird, and Skullcandy.

NPD linked the growth of the Bluetooth market to promotions and new products, as well as a lower average sales price, down 5 percent. 30 percent of headphones sold cost $50 or less, versus just 16 percent in 2015.

Bluetooth headphones -- particularly those from Beats -- have often commanded a high premium. Wireless versions of Beats' Solo2 headphones, for instance, are still $100 extra at $300, and Apple charges a $50 premium for the Bluetooth versions of its Powerbeats2 earbuds.

The segment will probably do even better if Apple drops 3.5mm headphone jacks from this year's iPhones, wrote NPD analyst Ben Arnold. Without those jacks, owners will be forced to use either Lightning or Bluetooth connections for external audio.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    Do people still think Apple is losing money on their Beats deal?
    lkruppnolamacguylolliverradarthekatrobertwaltercalilostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,405member
    Soli said:
    Do people still think Apple is losing money on their Beats deal?
    I’m sure we’ll hear from the “Bluetooth is shitty” and “Beats is shitty” crowd any minute now, especially the Bose fanboys.
    lostkiwipatchythepirate
  • Reply 3 of 21
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,437member
    Soli said:
    Do people still think Apple is losing money on their Beats deal?
    Beat (no pun intended) me to it!  Between the profit generated from the headphone market, and the ability to get an Apple Music streaming service launched much more quickly than otherwise, with (I expect) much better artist buy-in and exclusives, seems like it was a very good deal.

    Lots of innovation still needed in the headphone market as well, that Apple + Beats are well positioned to deliver.
    lkruppnolamacguylolliverradarthekatlostkiwi
  • Reply 4 of 21
    ktappektappe Posts: 753member
    lkrupp said:
    I’m sure we’ll hear from the “Bluetooth is shitty” and “Beats is shitty” crowd any minute now, especially the Bose fanboys.
    Bluetooth was shitty for a while. Pairing was hit or miss for years. I've just recently given it another go and devices (and iOS) work a lot better now than before. I wouldn't blame others for being gunshy if they had the same failure experiences I did.
    Deelroncalilostkiwi
  • Reply 5 of 21
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,063member
    I went wireless (for mobile use) when I got my Watch. Having a wireless remote on the wrist and the cans on a leash seemed silly. I normally use the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless, but some Jaybird Bluebuds when jogging with the dogs. Both sound great – the P5s clearly better. (I tried the wireless Beats models – to me they sound terrible, but maybe they are made for other styles of music.) I just wish Apple would add aptX support to mobile devices – the sound improvement is undeniable. A possibility for custom EQ settings (maybe even separate ones for different cans) would also be a step up.
    Deelronlollivercaliargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    Soli said:
    I’m sure we’ll hear from the “Bluetooth is shitty” and “Beats is shitty” crowd any minute now, especially the Bose fanboys.
    I am one who believed that Beats headphones sounded shitty. Several years ago, when Beats was on its' own, I spent an extended period of time auditioning the Beats wired headphones with my own music, which I knew very well. The Beats headphones had exaggerated bass, inaccurate highs, and just average vocal quality. 

    Well, I recently spent an extended time in the Apple Store, auditioning the Bluetooth Beats Studio headphones, again with my own music, and I was highly impressed with the quality of the sound. I suspect that Apple's infusion of cash helped with improving quality, whether it is in design, and choice of materials or components.

    They are definitely on my short list of Bluetooth headphones when the time comes. And right now, if you buy a new Mac or iPad, you'll get a free pair of Beats Bluetooth headphones!
    lolliverlostkiwipatchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 21
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,172member
    Interesting that BT headphones surpass wired headphones for the first time, and Apple is rumored to be dropping the headphone jack in a few months. Kinda takes the wind out of the sails a little for those insisting removing the headphone jack is a huge mistake.
    edited July 2016 lolliverradarthekatlostkiwiredraider11
  • Reply 8 of 21
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,693member
    dreyfus2 said:
    .... I tried the wireless Beats models – to me they sound terrible, but maybe they are made for other styles of music.
    The Beats Wireless Studio is then best pair of headphones I've owned (and that list includes a B&W wired). My music listening spans an incredible variety of 'styles.'

    It's all in the ears of the listener. 
    lolliverlostkiwipatchythepirate
  • Reply 9 of 21
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,693member

    rbnetengr said:
    lkrupp said:
    I am one who believed that Beats headphones sounded shitty. Several years ago, when Beats was on its' own, I spent an extended period of time auditioning the Beats wired headphones with my own music, which I knew very well. The Beats headphones had exaggerated bass, inaccurate highs, and just average vocal quality. 

    Well, I recently spent an extended time in the Apple Store, auditioning the Bluetooth Beats Studio headphones, again with my own music, and I was highly impressed with the quality of the sound. I suspect that Apple's infusion of cash helped with improving quality, whether it is in design, and choice of materials or components.

    They are definitely on my short list of Bluetooth headphones when the time comes. And right now, if you buy a new Mac or iPad, you'll get a free pair of Beats Bluetooth headphones!
    I fell into the category of "Beats sounded shitty" at one time. Until I got the BSW.

    lIt most certainly deserves to be in your short list.
    edited July 2016 lolliverlostkiwi
  • Reply 10 of 21
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 194member
    mac_128 said:
    Interesting that BT headphones surpass wired headphones for the first time, and Apple is rumored to be dropping the headphone jack in a few months. Kinda takes the wind out of the sails a little for those insisting removing the headphone jack is a huge mistake.
    Note that the "surpassing" was in revenue, not in unit sales.  Traditional wired headphones still outsell BT headphones by a very wide margin.

    I don't think it supports or hurts Apple's case for removing the headphone jack from the iPhone.
    gatorguycalicnocbui
  • Reply 11 of 21
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    rbnetengr said:
    lkrupp said:
    And right now, if you buy a new Mac or iPad, you'll get a free pair of Beats Bluetooth headphones!
    interesting - it's almost as if Apple has been nudging people toward wireless solutions....as if they knew something was afoot...
    lollivercalifastasleep
  • Reply 12 of 21
    Do people now understand why Apple thought it was the right time to begin the phase out of the headphone jack?
    fastasleepredraider11badmonk
  • Reply 13 of 21
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    Let summer I purchased a BT headphone for my son for about 25 Euro from a Lidl supermarket whilst on holiday in Spain. Maybe not as good as headphones costing 10 times as much the sound is still great.  It never fails to connect and although not used every day one charge lasts for weeks and weeks. If a supermarket can get it right on a budget this has to be  a sign that the technology has matured. Looks like Apple timing for getting rid of the 3.5 jack will be spot on and will help tip the balance away from wired headphone to wireless ones.
    lolliverDeelroncaliargonaut
  • Reply 14 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,290member
    Do people now understand why Apple thought it was the right time to begin the phase out of the headphone jack?
    If I'm understanding the report correctly the reason $ volume of bluetooth headsets has surpassed traditional is because the price of even excellent quality wited headphones has been dropping. My guess is most folks still buy wired, very good ones with great sound and comfort for relatively low prices. While great cans used to be $200+ there's good-sounding ones out there for $50 nowadays. Go read some reviews from enthusiast sites. You no longer have to spend hundreds of dollars for good sound.

    But because of that the overall $ volume for wired has dropped over the past couple of years. I don't think they're selling fewer of them, just for less money. Of course it does help that there's a least a few bluetooth headphones that can compete with the better wired ones according to reviewers. That's a fairly recent development as far as I know. 
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 15 of 21
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Hahaha reminds me of a post I made regarding the subject.
    I said if Apple dropped the 3.5mm jack it would be easy for them to speed up Bluetooth and lightning adoption with the power of Beats. This would
    make the Beats acquisition even more valuable than it already is.

    Note: I still do not agree with dropping the jack(audiophiles understand) but the thought of lightning to 3.5mm connectors have eased my concerns.
    Do people now understand why Apple thought it was the right time to begin the phase out of the headphone jack?

    Name a single Apple product that has dropped the headphone jack. Otherwise you're just spreading rumors like tech blogs do.



  • Reply 16 of 21
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,172member
    toddzrx said:
    mac_128 said:
    Interesting that BT headphones surpass wired headphones for the first time, and Apple is rumored to be dropping the headphone jack in a few months. Kinda takes the wind out of the sails a little for those insisting removing the headphone jack is a huge mistake.
    Note that the "surpassing" was in revenue, not in unit sales.  Traditional wired headphones still outsell BT headphones by a very wide margin.

    I don't think it supports or hurts Apple's case for removing the headphone jack from the iPhone.
    But doesn't that say something? If there's more money to be made in wireless headphones, then fewer companies are going to want to make lower margin wired headsets. 
  • Reply 17 of 21
    mac_128 said:
    Interesting that BT headphones surpass wired headphones for the first time, and Apple is rumored to be dropping the headphone jack in a few months. Kinda takes the wind out of the sails a little for those insisting removing the headphone jack is a huge mistake.
    It depends. Do you think it is because of the loud rumors that have been around for atleast a year or people just like the fact?

    Its not clear to say which it is, its probably both, but I myself thinks its the rumors atleast  ~60% of the time. Who wants to shell out 100-200 bucks on something that is useless with their next phone
  • Reply 18 of 21
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,540member
    A bit surprised that LG are a big player in Bluetooth headphones; don't think I've ever seen an LG pair in the wild.
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 19 of 21
    noivadnoivad Posts: 186member
    I haven’t tried Beats since before the acquisition. The lows were exaggerated at the expense of clarity in the mids & fidelity at the highs. Since Dre is no longer in a position to make them sound shitty, I imagine they probably improved.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    rbnetengr said:
    lkrupp said:
    Well, I recently spent an extended time in the Apple Store, auditioning the Bluetooth Beats Studio headphones, again with my own music, and I was highly impressed with the quality of the sound. I suspect that Apple's infusion of cash helped with improving quality, whether it is in design, and choice of materials or components.
    When the Beats deal was first rumoured it was a hard sell around here to convince people that the original Beats didn't sound like the current Beats at the time of the sale. I have no idea what Apple has been able to influence with Beats since they took ownership, but Solo and other models from Beats didn't have the excessive bass of the original, and appeared to be both attractive in appearance and of a high-quality construction (even if their fast rise in the market was predicated on their brand more than anything else).

    PS: Despite it's young age the company has an interesting history. First being assisted by Monster Cable Products Inc.—yeah, those scumbags with overpriced cables—for manufacturing (and possibly distribution connections), and then being mostly owned by HTC, who then reduced their ownership by about half, and then sold it all off in a span of about 3 years, having made a very minor profit (I really don't get what HTC was thinking). With Iovine and Dre being involved, and then Apple paying about 5–6x what HTC paid in 2010, when you adjust for owning the whole company, and paying 7.5x more than Apple's largest and most historic acquisition of NeXT, and all within a fairly short timeframe, it's an interesting story to be sure.
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