Apple is all about going wireless these days. That philosophy spilled into the audio space when Apple introduced its $159 AirPods, a set of Bluetooth earphones that Apple claims "will forever change the way you use headphones." Now the Cupertino company is apparently eyeing the audiophile space by developing high-end over-the-year headphones to rival other premium options on the market.
People who are supposedly familiar with the product's development told Bloomberg that the new earphones could arrive by the end of the year, though that is not set in stone. While the sources did not get into specifics, they said Apple has faced some challenges in developing its new headphones, and that could result in the company pushing back the release into sometime next year.
It is said that Apple went through similar design challenges when developing its $349 HomePod smart speaker, which itself went through several redesigns before a finalized product emerged. That is not too surprising, given that Apple puts so much focus on the look and feel of products. Whatever the company is cooking up in the headphone space will likely have a premium look to it, especially with Apple targeting audiophile-grade performance.
One thing that is interesting about Apple's purported plans is that a set of high-end over-the-year headphones could potentially cannibalize the company's own Beats by Dre offerings. Apple acquired Beats three years ago for $3.2 billion—no small sum, obviously. Beats is one of the leading brands in the headphone market, alongside Bose, Sennheiser, Sony, and Skullcandy.
According to NPD Group, Apple's AirPods and Beats headphones combined to give Apple more than a quarter (27 percent) of the wireless headphone market, with Apple raking in nearly half of all the revenue due to its premium pricing models. Though the Beats brand has been a money maker for Apple, the company probably thinks that marketing its own brand headphones could be just as lucrative.
It remains to be seen how much Apple's headphones will cost if and when it ships, but you can reasonably assume it will carry a premium price tag.
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