It appears that Apple is finally ready to get into the over-ear headphones world. After finding success with its wireless AirPods, that isn’t particularly surprising. Consumers seemingly rush out to buy any device as long as it has an Apple logo. A pair of modular, customizable headphones would likely be no exception.
According to a report from Bloomberg which cites several anonymous sources, Apple has been working on the headphones since 2018. They are slated to arrive this year so long as delays from the coronavirus pandemic don’t interfere.
Workout to Comfort
Apple is reportedly working on two different versions of the new headphones. One will have a premium, comfort-first feel with leather-like fabrics. The other will be geared towards fitness with light, breathable materials.
While that sounds interesting enough, these headphones have a twist. The ear pads and headband padding attach to the metal frame of the headphones with a magnet. This leads many to believe that users will be able to customize their headphones like an Apple Watch. In fact, it might even be possible to own just one pair of headphones and convert them between fitness and comfort modes.
Reportedly, the headphones will have a “retro” look. They feature oval-shaped ear cups and a thin metal headband that connects to the top of the ears rather than the sides. It isn’t clear what sort of audio drivers the headphones will have, but they are going to compete in the same $350 price range as pairs from makers like Bose and Sony.
Apple’s newest audio gear will likely utilize the same wireless pairing and active noise cancellation as its AirPods Pro. They will also have Siri integrations for voice control (good luck with that) and a limited set of touch controls.
Competing With Itself
It’s interesting that Apple is going to launch a branded pair of high-end headphones since it already owns the Beats brand. In a sense, it will be competing with itself. Since acquiring Beats for $3 billion in 2014 it has continued to upgrade those headphones. Whether or not that will change after it establishes its own line of audio gear remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, the fact that Apple is making headphones is an indication that it will continue leaning into the accessories market moving forward. As consumers hang on to their old iPhones for longer, the company has had to adjust its market strategy. Accessories have been a big part of that pivot.
Last year, Apple raked in $24.5 billion from its accessories division, which includes AirPods, Beats, and the Apple Watch. That’s nearly as much as it made from Mac sales and $3 billion more than it made on iPads.
Apple is poised to have a product-heavy calendar in the next couple of years. Between official announcements and rumors, we know about new 5G iPhones, AirTags (a Tile-like tracking device), budget-friendly iPads, and new Macs. Meanwhile, the company just announced a $399 iPhone SE on Wednesday.
All of those products, along with new premium headphones, should help Apple continue to thrive for the foreseeable future.