Published: Tue, March 06, 2018
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Apple Turns Up Audio Ambition With High-End Headphones

Apple Turns Up Audio Ambition With High-End Headphones

The report suggests Apple will repeat its strategy with the HomePod in terms of its pricing and target market, with the new headphones from the company priced to match similar high-end audio gadgets from Bose and even the company's own Beats line.

There are plans to release the headphones as early as the end of this year, though challenges with development could delay the release, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. That is not too surprising, given that Apple puts so much focus on the look and feel of products. Within that category, wearable product sales, which include the Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones, surged 70 percent past year, Apple said on a recent earnings call.

Bloomberg says the headphones will also include "similar wireless pairing functionality" to Apple's AirPods earbuds, suggesting they will likely include Apple's W1 wireless chip (or its successor) and connect to iPhones and iPads more seamlessly than other devices.

It's clear that Apple wants to pin a premium price tag on the headphones but finding that sweet spot among offerings from market leaders such as Bose and Sennheiser will be crucial. Apple acquired Beats three years ago for $3.2 billion-no small sum, obviously. This will essentially raise concerns for brands like Bose, Sony and Apple's own Beats by Dre who now have a strong foothold in the premium market with their range of noise-canceling audio products.

With the extremely popular AirPods and newly released HomePod, Apple has swiftly invaded the audio industry.

It's unclear what is going to happen to Beats-branded headphones. Athlete-oriented wireless Beats earphones still seem to be selling well despite the popularity of AirPods.

Apple's cost for each $349 HomePod is $216, resulting in thinner profit margins than typical Apple hardware products, according to TechInsights.

Last month, we learned the first Apple-branded over-ear headphones were being developed. AirPods have been tricky to assemble and use unusual design tricks, likely making them expensive to produce.

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