The secret copycat AirPods rivers and lakes: some people make millions of dollars a month, Apple is sitting on the sidelines?

“Don’t worry, our machine, even if Apple CEO Cook is here, you can’t tell the difference.” In Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei Saige Electronics Building, Chen Rui, who manages Apple’s copycat headphones, showed the high-fashion AirPods in his hands and said to with a “proud” face.

High-fashion AirPods is a hot commodity in Huaqiangbei nowadays, in the Saige electronic building and around several digital mall, these exquisite knock-offs placed in the counter in a prominent position, business enthusiasm to solicit inquiries from customers, “business opportunities” in front of, no one seems to worry about the risks behind the existence of.

For a long time, Huaqiangbei are known for their complete electronic components supporting, along with the Pearl River Delta region’s electronic generation industry boom brings the engineering imitation ability, let it be regarded as the global consumer electronics wind vane.

In September 2016, Apple introduced the initial generation of AirPods at the autumn new product launch, which focused on noise cancellation and sound quality of wireless Bluetooth (TWS) headphones quickly exploded a new market. Compared to the hardware cost of less than $300, the initial AirPods’ starting price of $1276 gave Apple a gross profit of more than 400%. The wearable device business, mainly AirPods, pulled the company’s stock price up steadily, and companies in Apple’s acoustic industry chain, such as Lixin Precision and Geer, also benefited.

To a large extent, AirPods are the most successful product launched by Apple after the iPhone. According to market research firm Counterpoint, in 2019, the global TWS headphones will be 120 million units, with AirPods sales accounting for nearly half of them, and the market for TWS headphones is expected to reach 230 million units in 2020, with AirPods sales also growing to 89 million units.

Fast-growing market, huge profit margins, AirPods naturally can not escape the fate of copycats. Chen Rui told Deep Web that in early 2017, the first generation of AirPods listed more than a month, Huaqiang North there were the earliest copycats, at first just a simple appearance of imitation, after several years of iteration, the current high-fashion AirPods in addition to the appearance of the same as the genuine product, AirPods have all the software functions can also be achieved.

A number of industry players to the “Deep Web” to show the high-fashion AirPods are enough to fake the real thing, after the boot can be automatically identified with the iPhone pairing, you can check the serial number, support renaming, positioning, noise reduction, transparency and other functions are readily available, and even use Apple’s voice assistant Siri to wake up.

Behind the copycat AirPods more and more realistic is a huge wealth effect, low-key Huaqiangbei businessmen sometimes do not shy away from telling the story of the wealth of the side: “a few years ago to do the basic are rich”, “business is good when a day to earn hundreds of thousands have been”, “I have friends by doing white cards in Shenzhen to buy a few suites” ……

High-fashion AirPods that look the same as the real ones

“A battle of relationships and money.”

Li Fei, who entered the white-label headphone industry two years ago, restored the production process of the copycat AirPods to “Deep Web”.

The AirPods have been in the market for more than a decade, and they have been in the market for more than a decade.

If you are asked if there are any high-fashion Apple headphones, they will say that this is the male mold, but in fact it is also a high-fashion headphone.

Of course, some players with deep resources won’t wait to look for a male model in the industry, but rather get the original drawings through their own channels before Apple officially launches the new AirPods. The gray production behind this has long been an open secret, just like before the release of the new iPhone, there will always be people who get the drawings in advance to produce the case to start selling, and these people can often make the first wave of money.

“It’s a competition between relationships and money,” Li Fei described.

The hardware part is easier to solve, while the software part requires a professional Bluetooth chip. At present, Apple and Huawei have self-developed Bluetooth chips, other layout TWS headset Android phone manufacturers are using Qualcomm’s solution, Huaqiangbei camp-based cottage players based on cost considerations, mostly using Jie Li, Zhongke Lanxun and Loda Bluetooth chips.

Many practitioners are familiar with, with the shape and chip, the details of the function will depend on the respective use of spare parts and software tuning. Powerful cottage manufacturers will have their own technical team to tune the software, while smaller manufacturers are generally outsourced to solution companies.

From the evolutionary path of knock-off AirPods, the technological advances of third-party Bluetooth chip manufacturers such as Jelly, Bluecon and Loda, as well as the maturity of professional solution companies, have made the knock-off products more and more sophisticated and spawned a boom in the white-label market.

From the appearance, it is no longer possible to distinguish the difference between imitations and originals. A number of industry players in Huaqiangbei told Deep Web that the current AirPods’ pressure, touch, speaker and noise-cancelling functional configurations can be achieved on imitations, but the real experience is naturally inferior to the genuine product. “You spend 100 yuan to buy a neutral (counterfeit) one, and there’s definitely still a difference between it and a thousand real ones.” One practitioner said.

The most difficult part of the current copycat AirPods manufacturing process is the noise reduction function, Li Fei told Deep Web, “The noise reduction technology is difficult and depends on the strength of the company, and if it is well tuned, the noise reduction is good, if it is not well tuned, it is worse. The function of noise reduction is Huaqiangbei has not yet overcome, many claim to have a noise reduction function is actually by the chip comes with, or simply make the earbuds a little bigger, physical noise reduction. Apple has done a very good job of noise reduction, both the white market or the brand market want to overcome this problem.”

Huaqiangbei warehouse a batch of well-marked foreign trade knock-off AirPods

“Some people make 10 or 20 million a month.”

Shanzhai AirPods sales link is mainly divided into offline and e-commerce two channels, according to the “Shenzhen Net” understanding, Huaqiang North region mainly do offline wholesale and foreign trade market, e-commerce is concentrated in Shenzhen Sakata and Guangming two places.

The grid electronic building practitioner Chen Rui told the “deep network”, Huaqiangbei mainly by volume, many stores have a factory, buy a mold over can do, open die need to spend some money, the mold can also be sold to many families, male products out of the mold is running volume, each earn a few dollars on it.

Chen Rui said, his shop every day, “Apple headphones” sales just dozens, hundreds of, he is located in the third floor of the Sage Electronics Building counter is mainly to serve as a diversion, do wholesale business, customers are mainly practitioners of third and fourth tier cities, online stores, micro-businesses and overseas businesses.

“When business was good before, a day to earn hundreds of thousands have been, this year’s epidemic is not good to do, foreign trade basically only a third of last year. But also okay, this year many people do not do, we have more new customers.” Chen Rui said.

In Huaqiangbei, the cottage AirPods are divided into different models according to the chips used, Lodat chips have the best performance, followed by Zhongke Lanxun, again Jie Li, and the price of the product also ranged from more than 200 to tens of pieces.

A quotation provided by Chen Rui shows that the second generation of “AirPods” equipped with Jelly chip wholesale price of 50 yuan, the second generation of Loda 90, the third generation of Jelly 70, the third generation of Loda with transparent 120, the third generation of blue with no noise reduction without transparent 150, the third generation of Loda with noise reduction with transparent 220.

There are merchants who offer lower prices. The company’s main business is in the foreign trade market, and the company’s main business is in the foreign trade market, and the company’s main business is in the foreign trade market, and the company’s main business is in the foreign trade market, and the company’s main business is in the foreign trade market, and the company’s main business is in the foreign trade market.

Zhang Qiang told “Deep Web”, this batch of goods are mainly some inventory, defective and refurbished goods, so the price can be so low, if you use worse parts cost can even do less than 10. “I used to mainly do Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America, and now Europe is getting more and more,” Zhang Qiang introduced.

Huaqiangbei industry in the low-end counterfeit market fierce fight at the same time, there are people aiming at the “high-end” market, the product offer reached 300 to 400 yuan. Li Fei said to the “Deep Web”, he knows an industry using Lodat chips, the sound quality, noise reduction and endurance are doing very well, every month shipments to do more than 3 million pairs, a conservative estimate of monthly earnings of 10 to 20 million. Li Fei said such practitioners are very low-key, will not make a public announcement.

In addition to the offline channels of Huaqiangbei, the shopkeepers operating the cottage AirPods also spread their channels to major domestic e-commerce platforms. The business of the e-commerce platform will not use the AirPods wording blatantly, but with “Huaqiangbei Apple headphones” “Huaqiangbei black technology” “Apple official third generation.” “Official original three generations of headphones” and other diversionary copy.

Some stores, in order to avoid the risk of platform auditing, will also use similar English names with AirPods, such as AirPors, AirPros, AirPlus and so on, but change the soup, the sale of products are actually using the same male model of the knock-off AirPods.

The businesses on the e-commerce platform mainly do retail, but there is no shortage of factory stores, which are basically online diversions and offline transactions. These stores will be labeled as “accepting customization” and can personalize the buyer’s order, such as on the packaging box, icon, identification code and so on.

The AirPods shop owners in a cottage in an e-commerce platform promotional map.

The circulation of cottage AirPods can be called layers of profiteering, equipped with Jie Li chip three generations of “AirPods” for example, the hardware cost about 40 yuan, the factory ex-factory price of about 50 yuan, Huaqiangbei wholesale 60 to 70 yuan, the e-commerce platform price from 100 to 300, and to the hands of micro-business, the price is basically higher than 400 yuan.

The first thing you need to do is to get a good idea of what you are looking for. As the appearance can not be identified, there are businesses will use lower-cost Jie Li and blue chip headphones, posing as Loda headphones for sale.

Who are the knock-off headphones hurting?

Apple is not unaware of the proliferation of knock-off AirPods on the market. In fact, Apple has quietly upgraded its AirPods aftermarket rules due to the emergence of copycat AirPods cheating Apple’s official aftermarket channels.

An Apple Apple Store clerk told Deep Web that the AirPods generation and second generation, Apple after-sales look at the shape and serial number will give customers a new headset, but then someone took a fake AirPods for the genuine, Apple after-sales will now conduct detailed comparison and testing of the headset.

Strangely enough, compared to its pursuit of knock-off iPhones, Apple has turned a blind eye to the fact that copycat AirPods are everywhere in the Huaqiangbei area and on e-commerce platforms. A number of practitioners in the Huaqiangbei area confirmed this to Deep Web, “The Apple people never cared, and when we sold them, we already said they were high-fashion and nothing happened.” One practitioner said.

The general consensus among most TWS industry researchers is that Apple ignored it because the copycat AirPods didn’t shake it up.

Genuine AirPods are priced at more than $1,000, and knock-off AirPods priced in the tens or hundreds of dollars won’t steal Apple’s market and will only erode the adjacent price point of the homegrown headphone brand. Some people even put Apple’s approach, and when Microsoft let pirated software strategy on par with, “in fact, this hit the domestic brand of independent headphones.

A businessman in Huaqiangbei who represents an independent headphone brand told “Deep Web” that since early 2019, his business has clearly been impacted by copycat AirPods products, as high-fashion AirPods began to appear around then, with open lid pop-ups and the ability to view power, but the price remained basically unchanged. The merchant said he began to transition from the end of last year to sell a game console.

In recent years, copycat AirPods have become increasingly rampant. According to industry research firm Asahi Big Data combined with Bluetooth chip shipments and other information to estimate, the copycat AirPods shipments this year will reach 200 million pairs, accounting for 50% of the overall TWS headset market share, and the remaining 50% of the market, and about 50% of the Apple genuine AirPods. Obviously, the survival space for other brands of headphones has been very limited.

Long-term concern about the consumer electronics industry, the first mobile phone research institute president Sun Yanbiao told Deep Web, “if there is no proliferation of white brand mobile phones, Huami OV may have appeared earlier, because white brand mobile phones lower prices, so that manufacturers lack of profit, there is no R & D, no competitiveness, white brand mobile phones have never crowded Nokia’s market, it erodes the domestic independent brands! . Today’s TWS headset market is the same, copycat products bring still cheap and poor quality products, such as battery systems have safety hazards, but also because these manufacturers have tax evasion, the same price domestic independent TWS headset brand market is deeply affected, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, Anke innovation and walkers and other domestic independent brand market erosion. “

The first thing you can do is identify the authenticity of the AirPods by the plastic film on the box before you open it: if the film has obvious cut and sticky iron marks, it must be a knockoff.

Copycat AirPods have obvious folds in the outer plastic film of the package

Chen Rui told Deep Web that the current industry’s knockoff AirPods are generally manually encapsulated, and even using machine encapsulation is very rough. If you want to achieve the same encapsulation effect as the genuine AirPods, the investment cost of the machine needs to be tens of millions of yuan, which will make each knock-off AirPods add a few dollars to the cost.

But it’s the cost of a few dollars that causes almost no one to use the more advanced machine packaging. A number of industry players all told Deep Web that while the industry already has factories that can make them, no one on the market currently uses them, and they don’t have the same packaging as the genuine AirPods. “It can’t be seen after tearing them down anyway,” said one practitioner.

Today’s copycat AirPods industry is like the copycat mobile phone market around 2010. In front of the independent TWS headset brand, on the one hand, the brand and technical strength are better Apple, on the other hand, tax evasion, set off a price war cottage factory, breakout road is a long way to go.