No matter how you slice it, Apple sells a lot of products. But when you try to figure out what Apple’s best-selling product is, the data becomes a bit murkier. Some of Apple best-selling products aren’t much of a surprise — but other ones are (more on that below).
When it comes to the raw number of units shipped, the clear and undisputed winner is undoubtedly the iPhone. Back in July 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the 1 billionth iPhone had been sold. While it’s impossible to know for sure, Apple is likely up to at least 1.5 billion iPhones sold by now.
That completely eclipses the iPod. Apple sold just 390 million iPod units as of December 2014 — which is when it stopped reporting unit sales for that product.
But there are other ways to measure a device’s success than raw numbers.
Apple analysis firm Above Avalon used an interesting metric by measuring sales growth within two years of a product’s launch. According to their data, Apple’s fastest growing product since launch is actually the iPad. And it’s not even close.
AirPods are another runaway hit, which are gaining ground on the iPad. Above Avalon estimates that AirPods will likely hit 90 percent year-over-year growth in 2019. There are likely about 25 million people who own AirPods now, and that’s likely to hit 50 million later this year.
And yet, even with that explosive growth, AirPods are still only the second best-selling Apple product within two years of its launch. Though Above Avalon does state that the iPad is likely an outlier and there will never be an Apple product that comes close to exceeding its unit sale growth.
What’s the Big Surprise?
There’s another product category that could take the top spot, depending on which data you use and how you measure sales success. And it’s probably a product category you wouldn’t expect: dongles.
Dongles are part of Apple’s Wearables, Home and Accessories category, which raked in $5.1 billion in the last quarter.
But Apple doesn’t separate its dongle sales from its HomePod or Apple Watch sales, which makes calculating how many dongles it’s sold fairly difficult.
Third-party retailers don’t have that problem. Take Best Buy, for example.
According to a report from Ceros, dongles have been Best Buy’s top-selling Apple product for the last two years.
When it came to individual products, AirPods took the top spot on Best Buy’s list. But if you look at dongles and adapters as a single category, they’re by far the top-selling Apple product at the retailer.
Because Apple has never reported individual dongle sales, it’s tough to know just how many adapters it has sold. But considering the fact that adapters are fairly inexpensive, there’s a good chance that they contribute a far-from-insignificant portion to the Wearables, Home and Accessories category.
Does that mean dongles are going to replace the iPhone? Well, no. But it does help illustrate why it’s so hard to pin down which products are Apple’s best selling of all time; some of which, we’d never guess.