December 29, 2013 in Business

Headphone sales make a comeback

Mcclatchy-Tribune
 
Associated Press photo

This photo provided by Beats by Dr. Dre shows a Beats Studio Wireless plush set of over-ear headphones.
(Full-size photo)

Here’s one trend Apple missed: headphones, a music lover’s accessory that’s as old as home stereo sound.

Headphones made a huge comeback this holiday season, climbing up in the rankings of hot consumer electronics items.

“For years, earplugs and headphones were stuck as $10 to $15 throwaway products,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group.

You can still find inexpensive white earbuds, but they’re being displaced by pricey versions that cost $150 to $300 and come in statement colors like red, purple and teal.

As recently as 2010, the category wasn’t even in the top 50 for consumer electronics sales, Baker said.

This year, headphones landed in the top five consumer electronics categories over Black Friday weekend, falling just behind TVs, tablets and notebooks on NPD’s list. (The list doesn’t include video game consoles, this year’s other emerging hot category.)

Two companies led the charge to turn headphones into lifestyle products, Baker said: Beats Electronics and Sol Republic.

They turned an old, functional product into a stylish accessory to use with new mobile devices. As a result, every retailer from RadioShack to Nordstrom featured Beats by Dr. Dre and Sol Republic headphones prominently this holiday season.

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