Counterfeiters are hungry for a piece of Apple’s $16B AirPod market

Enlarge / These AirPods, displayed on the Apple Park Customer Heart in Cupertino, are real—however recognizing the distinction between actual and counterfeit electronics is not at all times easy.

US Customs and Border Safety reports that up to now in fiscal yr 2021, it has seized about 360,000 units of wi-fi headphones, value an estimated $62.2 million. That is solely 9 months’ value of seizures—nevertheless it’s already greater than the 290,000 units value $61.7 million that have been seized all through fiscal yr 2020.

In a single such massive seizure, CBP seized roughly 6,400 counterfeit AirPods and AirPods Professional in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July eleventh. If the seized items had been real, their mixed Apple MSRP would have been about $1.3 million—however the 5 seized shipments have been manifested at solely $312 every. All 5 shipments have been headed for a single deal with in Brownsville, Texas.

Then once more, the feds could not at all times get it proper. In September 2020, CBP in New York Metropolis seized a 2,000 unit cargo of completely reliable OnePlus earbuds headed for Nevada, claiming they have been “counterfeit AirPods.” When pressed concerning the error, CBP doubled down, saying that an organization “doesn’t should put an ‘Apple’ wordmark or design on their merchandise” to violate trademark regulation and including that importers “have many alternatives… to supply proof that their product doesn’t violate the related recorded logos.”

Not all counterfeiters goal Apple, after all—well-known manufacturers corresponding to Sony, Jabra, Samsung, and Bose have their very own knockoff artists. However regardless of its premium model place, Apple holds the lion’s share of the wi-fi earbud market. In 2020, Apple held 25% of the “good private audio” market share—almost triple that of Samsung, its closest competitor. That market share added as much as almost 109 million items—and, in keeping with market evaluation agency Canalys, $16 billion or extra in income.

Roughly 80% of the world’s counterfeit client items come from China, according to the Counterfeit Report‘s Craig Crosby. In late 2016, Apple purchased 100 supposedly Apple-made merchandise on Amazon and located that 90% of them have been counterfeits—regardless of coming immediately from Amazon, not from third-party listings. Throughout the ensuing lawsuit, Amazon notified Apple that the counterfeit merchandise have been provided by Cell Star, regardless of the copious use of Apple branding.

Though a few of the counterfeit items are apparent rip-offs, some require bodily disassembly and skilled product information to establish. Reuse of stolen manufacturing unit molds is widespread, and a few counterfeit AirPods correctly mimic the pairing course of with iPhones and even show correct Apple serial numbers.

Sadly, “comparable look” doesn’t indicate “comparable high quality”—it is far more tough to identify subpar audio drivers and amplification circuits than a barely off-color or misshapen chassis. Shoppers ought to be involved with security, as effectively; Amazon product evaluations of counterfeit chargers typically embrace tales of the phony components overheating, smoldering, and even burning outright throughout regular use.

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