Will TicPods Free Be The Real AirPods Competitor
Mobvoi, a Chinese electronics company, has an Indigogo campaign for AirPods clones that has raised nearly $700,000 on a goal of $50,000. TicPods Free are wireless earbuds that look very much like an AirPods knockoff, have touch controls, in-ear detection, IPv5 water resistance, and integration with both Apple Siri and Google Assistant. The ear buds are currently selling for $79 as part of the crowdsourcing campaign, but are expected to retail for $129. AirPods currently sell for $159. TicPods Free are available in three colors: white, blue and red. However, the blue looks almost black and the red is closer to orange. The devices are scheduled to ship in July.
Taking on AirPods
AirPods have been a runaway hit for Apple which has historically had trouble keeping the devices in stock. In the first half of 2017, NPD Group estimated that AirPods accounted for 85% of wireless earbud sales. A study in 2017 also found that AirPods recorded the highest customer satisfaction of any product in the Apple’s history. And, it looks like AirPods are getting an upgrade in 2018. Bloomberg reported in February that AirPod will become voice-activated in 2018. That means Siri will always be listening and you won’t have to tap to activate.
AirPods for the Android Crowd – A Very Large Crowd
TicPods Free will require a tap to activate, but there may be an opening, particularly in the Android smartphone market. AirPods work with Android OS smartphones, but it is not the same fully-integrated experience as with iPhone. TicPods aren’t likely to match AirPods’ features and a 19% discount won’t sway many Apple fans. However, the product may turn out to be well suited for Android users which make up over 85% of all global smartphone users.
Google entered the space in October 2017 with the Pixel Buds that have many similar features to AirPods. However, the earbuds are tethered and have received largely negative reviews in the media. Mobvoi isn’t exactly alone in this space. Sony and Bragi also have offerings that are untethered, have Google Assistant integration and many similar features. Even with competition, it is a large and fast growing market. Juniper Research predicts that 285 million devices will be in use in 2022.
Mobvoi has raised over $250 million, including a $180 million funding round in 2017. This is clearly a company that didn’t need to do a crowd funding campaign to bring TicPods Free to market. But, the fact that over 5,000 people have pre-ordered the device, including 600 that will also receive the TicWatch, it looks like a market ready for an AirPods clone.