The Apple effect? Wireless headphone sales soar in year since iPhone dropped headphone jack

Sales of wireless headphones have increased by more than 300% in the year since Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, according to new figures from Argos.

The technology giant opted to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from the iPhone 7 in 2016 while launching its first wireless earphones, called AirPods, a decision that was initially criticised as inconvenient for consumers.

Apple AirPods
Apple AirPods (Apple)

But new data from retail giant Argos shows a sales increase of 343% for Bluetooth wireless headphones over the last 12 months, suggesting mobile phone users have decided to embrace the technology.

The figures were announced as the newest iPhone handsets, the 8 and 8 Plus, go on sale in the UK on Friday. Both devices do not have a headphone port.

Other smartphone manufacturers, including HTC and Motorola, have followed suit by removing the port from some of their new devices, a trend industry analysts have said is likely to continue.

Ben Wood, chief of research at analyst firm CCS Insight, said: “This correlates with the feedback we have been getting from the market. Apple’s decision to remove the 3.5mm jack on all products since the iPhone 7 has undoubted been a major factor.

Sony wireless headphones
Sony’s wireless MDR-1000X headphones (Sony)

“All the leading headphone makers have responded with a growing range of Bluetooth products and Apple itself has grabbed a huge slice of the wireless earbud market with its AirPods.”

Mr Wood said the traditional higher price point for wireless headphones was also attractive to manufacturers, but advances in wireless technology had made the products more appealing to consumers.

“At the recent IFA event in Berlin, Europe’s largest consumer electronics show, the shift towards Bluetooth adoption by headphone makers was palpable,” he said.

“There is also a huge incentive for headphone makers to move in this direction because the products can command a premium over their wired rivals and with that typically comes a higher margin too.”

Apple iPhone 7 goes on sale
The iPhone 7 removed the headphone jack (Yui Mok/PA)

“Bluetooth technology has improved dramatically over the last few years. It is more reliable
and often uses less power than it used to – this has made Bluetooth headsets a more viable option.”

Argos technology accessories buyer Dean Clarke added: “Changes in the mobile market have driven a huge – and incredibly rapid – shift in the way that people listen to music.

“This has been one of the fastest adoptions of a technology that we’ve ever seen – the rate at which consumers are adopting wireless headphones is a remarkable transformation in purchasing habits.

“Apple, one of the biggest players in the mobile market, has caused the switch.

“The iPhone 7 was one of the first top-selling UK flagship smartphones to ditch the headphone socket and the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X following suit this year has confirmed that wireless is likely to be the standard going forwards.”


 

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