Apple Replays the Wrong Audio Track

AirPods Max is Apple’s first entry into the wireless headphone market.



Updated on the 8th. December 2020 at 3:58 p.m. Pacific time.

Apple Inc.

AAPL 0.51%.

at least the new headphones have the right name.

On Tuesday morning the company announced the launch of the AirPods Max. Apple’s first entry into the wireless in-ear headset market is priced between 549 and 57 percent higher than the most expensive comparable Beats family of headphones. The new headphones will be delivered next week.

Apple has never been a bargain hunter, and its success with the AirPod series has probably strengthened its approach to the audio market. The company released its first version at the end of 2016 for $159 – a fair bonus for other mobile phone enthusiasts at the time. But the sound quality and user-friendliness of the AirPods were enough to overcome the ridiculousness of their design in the face of the competition. The buttons sold solidly behind the grids and paved the way for an even more expensive Pro version, which was released at the end of last year. Apple named AirPods as the leading growth engine in the apparel segment, with sales up 25 percent to $30.6 billion for the company’s fiscal year ending in September.

But Apple’s premium pricing strategy doesn’t always work. The first HomePod smartphone was launched in early 2018 at a price of $350, more than double the price of the first HomePod smartphone.


Echo, which at the time of the smart speaker rule category. The HomePod didn’t sell well: Futuresource Consulting estimates that it accounted for approximately 4% of smartphone sales this year. Since then, Apple has lowered the price of the HomePod by $50 and last month launched a much cheaper version called HomePod Mini for $99.

It seems that the new Max AirPods tend to follow them. The market for BTE headphones is fragmented, with prices ranging from well under $100 to an audiophile offer of over $1000. But the current average selling price of noise-cancelling wireless headphones is about $230, according to

Ben Arnold

of the NDP groups. And sales in this category have declined, with revenues in the first 10 months of this year 45% lower than the same period last year, as consumers prefer wireless buttons, according to NPD.

Even Apple will have a hard time reversing this trend – especially for a product that used to be more expensive than its packaging. The pandemic has certainly increased demand for consumer electronics, and working from home will remain a reality for many in the New Year. But even among Apple’s many fans, few can bear the high price the company pays for turning a blind eye to family noise.

Write to Dan Gallagher at [email protected]

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