Apple is reportedly set to launch its own pair of high-end, over-ear headphones as soon as the second half of this year, a move that may place the future of the Beats brand in question.
The information was buried in a Bloomberg report that claimed Sonos may be making a drastic change in its speaker-oriented lineup with a plan to launch its own headphones. The report included the tidbit that Apple is also planning to launch its own over-ear headphones as early as the second half of this year, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The rumors for Apple over-ear headphones started in February 2018, when KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a note to investors that Apple was working to launch a “branded high-end, over-ear headphone with an ‘all-new’ design to add to its growing audio accessory lineup.” Apple appeared to be taking what it learned from its acquisition of Beats and applying it to a new product. The report was followed up by Bloomberg in June 2018, when it said that Apple will use its own branding in the accessories instead of Beats, and that the headphones were initially planned to launch last year but was delayed by development setbacks.
The new Bloomberg report mentioned the more specific timeline for the Apple over-ear headphones, but it did not disclose any other details about the device. There was no additional information on what challenges the headphones encountered and what features it will offer, though early speculation is that aside from going with the Apple logo instead of the Beats logo, they will feature the upgraded W1 chip found in the AirPods to allow them to instantly connect to other Apple devices, as well as noise cancellation technology.
The persistent rumors of over-ear phones with Apple branding instead of Beats reveals that the over $3 billion purchase by Apple was not for Beats headphones, but rather for the Beats Music service, which formed the basis for Apple Music. Apple has neglected growing the Beats brand, while heavily supporting its AirPods and the rumored over-ear headphones.
Apple has not yet officially announced the over-ear headphones.