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The second-generation AirPods Pro on display at an event on the campus of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, on September 7, 2022. Photo: AP

Hotter than iPhone 14: US$14 AirPods Pro lanyard is selling out on Apple’s website in China amid online mockery

  • The wait time for orders of Incase’s lanyard surpass those of the regular iPhone 14, similar to the wait for the 14 Pro Max
  • The lanyard has proven popular even as netizens mocked the high price tag because similar products cost as little as 36 US cents in China
A braided loop designed for Apple’s latest AirPods Pro is selling fast in China amid jokes and derision on social media about its 98 yuan (US$14) price tag, after Chinese consumers’ overwhelming interest in the technology giant’s new iPhone 14 handsets overwhelmed its website’s servers during pre-orders.

Wait times for online orders of the lanyard, which was unveiled alongside the new AirPods at a product launch event last week, have stretched past five weeks, according to Apple’s website. As of Tuesday, the earliest delivery time was October 19.

The wait time is similar to that of the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the most popular new handset unveiled last week, and surpasses that of the regular iPhone 14. This is despite the fact that it remains in stock at Apple’s bricks-and-mortar locations across major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

iPhone 14 pre-orders crash Apple’s services amid high demand in China

On social media, though, Chinese netizens have been mocking the 4.54-gram lanyard from California-based Incase for what they see as a high price for braided cords and a plastic clip that attaches to the second generation AirPods Pro case. Similar looking products can be found on domestic e-commerce platforms such as Pinduoduo for as little as 2.5 yuan (36 US cents).
Hashtags about the lanyard became a trending topic on the microblogging platform Weibo this week, racking up more than 350 million views and 12,000 discussions since Sunday.

“I wouldn’t even dare to buy such an expensive rope to hang myself,” one user wrote, receiving more than 16,000 likes. “There are a lot of these in a 2 yuan store,” said another.

However, some users argued that the price is acceptable for consumers who already spent 1,899 yuan on the AirPods Pro 2. Others questioned whether Apple was deliberately keeping stock low as a form of hunger marketing.

In addition to being available in stores in mainland China, the lanyard is still shipping immediately in some markets such as Hong Kong.

The Incase Lanyard for Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro. Photo: Apple Inc

Incase says on its website that the lanyard has an “intentionally simple design”. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Many similar lanyards selling on Chinese platforms are labelled as being “designed for AirPods Pro second generation”, and they sell for about a third of the price of Incase’s product.

Still, Apple remains immensely popular in China, helping to boost sales of official accessories. As with its other products, Apple’s new iPhone models have also proven to be a hit in the country.

By Saturday, 24 hours after pre-orders opened, Chinese consumers had placed more than 2 million orders for iPhone 14 devices through the official Apple Store on, continuing the strong demand that JD saw last year for pre-orders of the iPhone 13.

Apple narrows China-India iPhone release gap in diversification push

Shipments were pushed back five to seven weeks beyond the September 16 launch date for the Pro and Pro Max. The two Pro models accounted for about 85 per cent of all iPhone 14 pre-orders in China, according to Kuo Ming-chi, an analyst at TF Securities known for his accurate assessments of Apple.

Despite initial consumer complaints about the lack of innovation, analysts believe the iPhone 14 series can help Apple to fend off Android phones in the high-end segment, a competitive market for Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Oppo and sanctions-hit Huawei Technologies Co. Overall smartphone sales have been declining in China amid weakening demand in a slowing economy.

Nearly half of second-quarter premium smartphone sales in the country were for iPhones, according to Counterpoint.