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Apple Working on New Siri-Enabled Headphones

AirPods have quietly become a hit product for Apple. The Siri-enabled hearables were cited as big contributors to the company’s $5.5 billion in “other” revenue in Q1 2018. Given the success, it is not surprising that Apple is planning for AirPod feature upgrades in 2018-19 and planning on launching a new noise canceling over-the-ear product. Bloomberg is reporting:

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on noise-canceling, over-ear headphones that rival headsets from market leaders like Bose and even the company’s own Beats by Dre brand.

The new headphones could hit the market toward the end of 2018. However, there have apparently been several design challenges that could derail the project. Headphones that focus on audio quality and include the Siri voice assistant would be a logical complement to Apple’s HomePod strategy. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu continue:

“The latest plans call for headphones targeting the high-end of the market, replicating Apple’s approach with the $349 HomePod speaker, released earlier this year. In addition to noise-canceling capabilities, Apple plans to include similar wireless pairing functionality to the AirPods.”

Pushing Further into Hearables

With Watch, AirPods and Beats headphone revenue rising 70% in the 2017 fiscal year, it is logical that Apple is looking to push further into the hearable category. Another hearable product also would provide a new outlet for consumers to access Siri. In the high-end headphone space, Google Assistant is already integrated in Bose noise canceling headphones. Siri and Google Assistant are both integrated into the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds, but those fall in the active category as opposed to the high-quality audio and noise canceling segment.

The hearable category also aligns with Apple’s strength in personal mobile devices. Apple has excelled in launching products for the individual ranging from the iPod and iPhone to AirPods and Watch. It has been less successful in devices designed for multiple users such as Apple TV and HomePod (at least so far). Doubling down with a new set of headphones for the personal device ecosystem seems like a perfect fit. I have noise canceling headphones by Monster which have great audio quality and I like more than my previous set by Bose.  However, after my favorable experience with AirPods I would definitely consider replacing the Monster headphones with a new Apple competitor.

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