So, what do you want from Apple’s high end headphones?
Anyone can make a set of headphones, surely? Apple already owns a company that makes multiple sets of them, so what can possibly be causing these reported problems with design?
It had better be good
Think about it. It’s not hard to guess that Apple will want to make the best noise cancelling over ear headphones in the market. The company will want them to provide everything you expect from AirPods, but with a little more.
Given that over ear headphones are larger than in-ear systems, Apple may even intend making these high-end pans as independent a system as an Apple Watch, capable of streaming Apple Music independently while leaving the phone at home. There’s certainly space for that much tech inside one earpiece. Look at the size of Apple Watch.
Apple, the audio company
It should also be really clear that Apple has big plans for audio. HomePod’s outstanding sound quality should be seen as a dedication on the part of the company.
Why wouldn’t it now want to field a range of high-end smart audio systems for the home, the car, and wearable tech? It makes less sense for Apple not to do that than it makes for it to go ahead and enter that space. Therefore, it should surprise none if this is what they eventually do.
While some may have been surprised that AirPods were a hit for Apple, Apple really wasn’t surprised at all.
Business as normal?
Bloomberg seems to suggest that the cost and complexity of production of these new over ear pans is a problem for the company. It also suggests the systems have already seen multiple designs so far.
That’s perfectly normal practise – we know Apple likes to spend as long as it takes to create designs that work, both in terms of product features and in terms of making systems that sit elegantly (and recognizably) beside each other. You can put an iPhone beside a Mac and kind of tell they are both made by the same people.
We know Apple has the processors, the silicon and the audio technologies to go inside of these purported new products. It even has the wireless technologies. In theory, at least, it should be quite easy to pull them all together to make something cool. Leveraging its Beats technologies and existing knowledge, Apple should surely already be able to create a set of headphones?
What will it add?
If that is true, then Apple must be thinking about something more, some form of evolution of its existing technologies. What might that be? Could it be connected to the bone conduction technology it patented in 2014? While we know this tech got used in AirPods, how might Apple deploy it in an over-the-ear headphone set? Might these technologies enable Apple to build over the ear audio into some new form of wearable? What might that form factor be? Is the story really about over the ear headphones, or has Bloomberg simply stumbled upon an element to a bigger plan? Perhaps we’ll find out later this year.