Evolution of Apple earbuds (Infographic): From an accessory to an industry

Evolution Of Apple Earbuds

Did you know that Apple makes more money from its AirPods than some leading tech companies like Spotify, Twitter, and Adobe make from their entire businesses? Yes, the AirPods product lineup boasts some of the most successful audio gear on the market, so it’s interesting to look at the evolution of Apple earbuds over the years.

How did a series of basic white earphones shipped with early iPods and iPhones grow and transform to be so iconic and coveted that they are now an industry of their own? When were Apple earbuds invented, and what does the growth story look like? Scroll down to learn all about it in this infographic article.

The beginnings: Apple earbuds history

In January 2001, Apple launched iTunes and transformed how people consume digital media. This was soon followed by the iPod, which introduced the then-revolutionary concept of carrying 1000 songs in your pocket. 

The iPod was memorably marketed with ads that did not put the device at the forefront but instead showcased the white wired earphones it came with. The rounded design was pretty standard at the time, but it was trend-setting. It was a style statement to sport those white earbuds just like it is to wear AirPods today.

Designed by the renowned Sir Jonathan Ive, the white iPod headphones became a status symbol for early adopters and a crucial part of Apple’s marketing campaign.

Let’s look back on that journey and see how Apple’s headgear has helped forge a visual language for an iconic brand.

From earbuds to EarPods: What’s the difference?

After 2001, the Apple Earbuds underwent a small iteration with the addition of a volume rocker, but the next significant change came in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone. When you buy an iPhone, you get a set of attractive earbuds that feature an in-built mic and a remote to control your music. The sound quality and fit were greatly improved, but the cord tangled a lot. 

A year later, users were surprised with Apple’s high-end in-ear headphones that looked rather odd and were designed to be crammed into the ear canal via rubber plugs. They were supposed to reduce ambient noise and offer better sound, but that didn’t work out. 

After a 5-year run, Apple shelved the Earbuds in 2012 to release the EarPods that sported a new shape and hardware to fit the ears better. These were the perfect match for the accompanying iPhone 5. This dramatically redesigned iPhone was available in multiple color options, but the EarPods retained the staple bright white look. 

The game-changer: Apple’s wireless earbuds

Perhaps no other earphones have enjoyed the kind of popularity that the AirPods have. This true wireless version of Apple earbuds took the world by storm and finally put an end to the tangled mess of wired earphones.

The first wireless Apple earbuds and their successors, the AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro, are much-hyped products, and rightly so, given the superior fit, comfort, and features like transparency mode and voice control with Siri.

They have transformed the way people the world over listen and communicate every day. Moreover, they’re also a raging hit among those who don’t use Apple devices like the iPhone or Mac. That says a lot about the success Apple earphones have gained and the impact they have had. 

Maxing out with the AirPods Max? 

Apple’s most recent over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max, caused a similar stir as their predecessors. The unique design, high price point, and somewhat bizarre carrying case drew both attention and ridicule. But the AirPods Max sold out within days of their initial release, which is nothing less than what’s expected of any Apple product. 

The next generations: AirPods 3 and AirPods 2 Pro

After many rumors and speculation, Apple finally launched the third generation of AirPods 3, which carries its signature design. However, the stem observed a little change and finally welcomed the force sensor to manage audio and take calls.

In 2022, after almost 3 years, Apple launched a new iteration of AirPods Pro, and while not bigger(in size or price), it is certainly better than the first generation. And just the earbuds, this time around, even the charging case has got an upgrade.

That’s all for now!

The company is rumored to work on the next generation of AirPods Max and might be releasing it sometime in 2023. Whatever it be, there’s no doubt that these headphones, whenever they’re released, will make yet another statement and garner more users and fans just like the old Apple earbuds did two decades ago!

While the AirPods do not observe yearly updates, they get regular firmware updates. Thanks to this, we enjoy some amazing features every now and then, from Spatial audio support to Live Listen. Do follow our AirPods tips and tricks guide for a better understanding of your AirPods or AirPods Pro.  

What are your thoughts on the evolution of Apple earphones? Share them in the comments below!

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Author Profile

Mehak has a master’s degree in communication and over ten years of writing experience. Her passion for technology and Apple products led her to iGeeksBlog, where she specializes in writing product roundups and app recommendations for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on her MacBook Pro, she loves being lost in a book or out exploring the world.

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