The United States Customs has calculated what it means to intercept fake earplugs every year. It believes the number of fake AirPods it encounters likely means Apple is missing out on $3.2 billion in revenue in one year.
In 2019, $3.3 million worth of counterfeit earplugs were confiscated by customs, while that has grown to $62.2 million between October 2020 and now. A gigantic increase. The Information indicates that in that period between October 2020 and now, approximately 360,000 copycat earplugs with a sales value of $62.2 million were taken. This would be 2.5 percent of the world’s counterfeit products, according to the US Chamber of Commerce.
By that measure, fake AirPods would cost Apple about $3.2 billion in lost sales in one year, in the United States alone. That is of course if you assume that people who buy the fakes would actually buy real AirPods if they didn’t have the choice.
Apple says it’s not so much concerned with lost money, but with security. It states (via 9to5Mac): “Counterfeit products provide a substandard experience and can often be dangerous. Apple has teams around the world working with law enforcement, customs, merchants, social media companies and e-commerce sites to remove counterfeits. It’s important that customers have the confidence that they are buying a genuine product and not be misled into thinking that they are buying something that they are actually not buying at all.”
Apple puts it nicely, but it does have a point. It sometimes happens that fake products explode or overheat. That is extremely risky in airplanes, among other things. Most of the fake products come from China, possibly made with molds that come from the real Apple factories. AirPods are relatively easy to make: at least a lot easier than a complete iPhone or iPad. The fake earplugs are sometimes just real, you can hardly see the difference, although you often notice it quickly in the audio quality. Or when suddenly fire comes out of your ears.
Image source: Valli_Photography