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.