Apple is the most valuable company in the world, and is widely thought to be the most successful tech company of a generation. But one can truly appreciate how dominant it really is when a single product from its stable — which isn’t even its flagship — makes more money than entire tech companies.
Apple’s Airpods made more money in 2019 than Twitter, Snapchat, Shopify and Spotify combined. In 2019, Apple made $12 billion (Rs. 84,000 crore) from the sales of its wireless earphones, which is more than the revenues of these four tech giants put together. There’s a whole list of tech companies which were beaten by Airpods in terms of revenues — apart from Twitter, Snapchat, Shopify and Spotify, Airpods also made more money than Adobe, Nvidia and AMD. Its revenues were only slightly lower than that of Uber, and more than half those of Netflix.
And it’s not as though Airpods just earn a lot of revenue — they do so with very impressive margins. Thanks to the premium that customers are willing to pay for Apple products, Airpods have a gross margins of 30-50 percent, which make them astonishing money spinners for Apple. In 2019, Apple sold 6 crore pairs of Airpods, up from 3.5 crore in 2018, and 1.5 crore in 2017. With Airpods growing at 70 percent year-on-year, it’s not inconceivable they’ll leave even more companies in the dust in the coming years.
Airpods weren’t thought to be an immediate hit when they were first launched in 2016. There had been questions if people would pay a lot of extra money just for removing wires from their earphones, but Apple clearly understands its market well — Airpods have been a smashing hit. With $12 billion in revenues, if Airpods were an independent company and were given a usual 5x revenue multiple to calculate its valuation, the Airpods company would be worth $60 billion. This is more than the value of all 2o-odd Indian unicorn startups combined.
Even more incredibly, Airpods are a minuscule percentage of Apple’s overall revenues. Apple’s most successful product is the iPhone, which contributes over 80 percent of its revenues. Airpods, in comparison, contribute just over 3 percent. Airpods might not currently matter quite a lot in the overall scheme of things at Apple, but such is the dominance of the tech giant that when it launches something as ordinary as earphones, it ends up eclipsing entire tech companies the world over.