11/11/2010 UPDATE: Wi-Gear’s CEO has denied that the company has been purchased by Apple and has stated that the company halted operations due to lack of funding, not because it was sold. However, it still appears that former Wi-Gear employee Michael Kim is in fact working for Apple as an iOS Blueetooth Engineer.
It is strictly conjecture at this point, but it seems at least possible that Apple is working towards a solution for those tangled earbud wires that every iPod and iPhone owner is all too familiar with. According to the website 9to5mac, the story goes like this: Apple recently acquired a small San Francisco-based company called Wi-Gear. Wi-Gear had been for years an award-winning designer of wireless Bluetooth headphone products for iOS devices. The sale is alleged to have taken place some two months ago.
The report of the buyout was enough to raise more than a few eyebrows. Then a notice was spotted on Wi-Gear’s website stating, “Wi-Gear has ceased operations and is no longer in business. We will be unable to respond to any inquiries.” That was enough to set Apple forums ablaze with speculation that Apple was indeed preparing to cut the cords on its headsets and to begin to offer options that make use of wire-free Bluetooth technology.
The speculation was further fueled when it came to light that Michael Kim, an engineer and co-founder of Wi-Gear, had changed his LinkedIn profile to reflect that Steve Jobs is now signing his paychecks. Kim’s profile was recently updated to indicate that he is currently working as an iOS Bluetooth Engineer for Apple Inc. Wi-Gear is listed as a past employer. Wi-Gear’s CEO Mark Pundsack has yet to make any changes to his profile.
Wi-Gear had previously made a line of wireless A2DP headphones for iPods and iPhones dubbed the iMuffs as well as a Bluetooth adapter for older iDevices not equipped to handle Bluetooth technology.
If Apple is indeed up to something, it won’t be the first time it has considered wire-free headsets. The company previously tested the wireless headphone waters when it released its own Bluetooth headset in 2007. The product was discontinued two years later.
The idea of wireless earbuds or headphones being included in the standard iPhone and iPad packages sounds great to us, but we’ll refrain from getting our hopes until we hear some confirmation from Apple. After all, Apple does have a history of buying companies only to dismantle them, largely failing to conform to rumored implications of the acquisition (see LaLa and the Web-based iTunes rumors.)