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Apple dropping 3.5mm audio jack a ‘revenue move’

To the surprise of almost no-one, Apple revealed that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would ditch earphone jacks in favour of the Lightning connector and wireless functionality.

The company revealed wired earphones that connect via Lightning as well as “AirPod” wireless earphones that implement their new Apple W1 wireless chip. This new bit of silicon facilitates easy pairing with Apple devices.

However, IHS Technology senior analyst Paul Erickson says Apple is merely trying to migrate users from established standards to their own standard, for the sake of revenue.

Apple is trying to muscle in on the accessories market by opting for proprietary connections

“Apple’s new products match, rather than exceed, the technological envelope already created by competitors in the audio and mobile accessories markets,” Erickson explained. “However, when taken in combination with the W1 chipset, a rise in convenience is offset by a clear aggregate move by Apple to move iOS device owners’ accessories purchases away from third parties and industry standards, and more distinctly into Apple’s own product families.”

Erickson said the move was “particularly relevant” due to declining iPhone sales, the growth of the headphone market in general and Beats Audio’s top position in premium headphone revenue. He added that wireless headphones generated the most revenue in the headphone market.

“In totality, these moves represent Apple’s desire to bolster declining mobile device revenues by capturing as much of its device owners’ expenditures in the burgeoning audio accessories market as possible — via a deliberate transition away from industry audio standards and towards ones it controls, and the introduction of unique proprietary functionality.”

The wireless functionality of the AirPods saw a positive reception

The new W1 chip was the “only true groundbreaking functionality” introduced by the AirPods, as wireless earbuds, in-ear detection and tapping to initiate calls have all been done before, the analyst noted.

Erickson also cautioned that Apple’s previous EarPod earphones had issues with fitting into users’ ears and sound isolation troubles, saying that the AirPod design hasn’t changed much.

The analyst did heap more praise on the new wireless chip though.

“The W1 chipset, however, brings new and tangibly beneficial convenience to consumers using AirPods or any other W1-equipped audio accessory. The chipset in combination with Apple’s new mobile devices, moves device pairing for the AirPods and new Beats products into more user-friendly territory compared to the traditional use case experienced by consumers using Bluetooth,” . In addition, allowing this pairing information to be propagated using iCloud and thus potentially never needing to be done again for any new Apple device, is also a positive for the consumer.

Author | Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings almost seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More
  • Damien

    From a site that touts itself as tech savvy – please realize the headphone jack as we know it is a technology that dates back to 1878, and in the 3.5mm form, back to 1964. It is not a revenue move, it is progression. Just like not going with 5.25 floppies in favor of the smaller floppy disks on the original mac, just like ditching the floppy drive, when no one else did, and like going to USB when no one else did with the first iMac. There have been so many more examples of moves like this throughout their history. And with all of those moves, came stories like this. We all adapted, and don’t think twice about it anymore. I would rather not have 150 year old technology in my phone, how about you? Time to move on to something better.

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