More than five months after announcing a new line of Beats wireless headphones during the iPhone 7 presentation in September, Apple is finally making good on its promise. Having released the Solo 3 Wireless on-ear headphones in September and the Powerbeats 3 workout headphones in October, the company confirmed this week that the delayed Beats X earphones will be available on February 10. As of today, Beats headphones are the only ones besides Apple’s AirPods that come equipped with the company’s proprietary W1 chip, enabling easier pairing and a more stable, energy efficient Bluetooth connection.
Having acquired Beats in 2014 and released the AirPods in December, Apple now has a firm grip on the wireless headphone market. According to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, Beats and Apple products accounted for 27 percent of wireless headphone unit sales in the U.S. in December. In terms of dollar sales the combined market share of the two brands even amounted to 49 percent, meaning that 49 cents of every dollar spent on wireless headphones in the U.S. landed in Apple’s pockets during the holiday shopping season.
Assuming that the wireless headphone market is poised for growth, Apple’s decision to build its own chip to improve the wireless listening experience could turn out to be golden. Reviews almost unequivocally praised the performance of the W1 chip compared to the standard Bluetooth technology used in other wireless headphones.
This chart shows market share figures for the U.S. wireless headphone market in December 2016.