Apple Turns Up Audio Ambition With High-End Headphones

Apple Turns Up Audio Ambition With High-End Headphones

Apple Turns Up Audio Ambition With High-End Headphones

There are also concerns that this new product could end up cannibalizing sales from the Beats brand that's also owned by Apple. If the latest reports are to be believed, Apple is looking at introducing noise-canceling, over-the-ear headphones that rival headsets from established brands including Bose and its own Beats by Dre brand.

The report adds that Apple is planning to launch these headphones as early as the end of this year but it has faced "development challenges" which could end up delaying the release.

Similar to development of the HomePod, work on the new headphones has been on and off over the past year. Of course, since Apple abandoned the headphone jack on the iPhone, we can expect future audio releases to be wireless and include some variant of the W-series wireless chip. People are willing to a pay a premium for a high-end product but once crossing a certain price barrier, consumers feel as if they are overpaying. As a result, Apple is going to have to be smart about the pricing strategy, which it will, given its success with the AirPods.

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Researcher NPD Group said past year that sales of AirPods and Beats headphones gave Apple 27 percent of the wireless headphone market and nearly half the dollars spent on the category.

When the company acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics in the 2014 deal, Apple executives said the successful Beats by Dre headphones business was one of the drivers. There's been no indication yet on when, if ever, Apple would release these headphones. It's worth noting that numerous current top options in the wireless noise-cancelling market are pricey as well, though: Bose's QuietComfort 35 go for $350, while Sennheiser's HD1 Wireless initially retailed for $500. The HomePod is priced more than $100 higher than its main voice-activated competition from Sonos, and $200 more than an Amazon Echo, but $50 less than a competing Google Home Max. AirPods have been tricky to assemble and use unusual design tricks, likely making them expensive to produce.

No word as yet on how much these headphones will cost.

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