Apple May Go All-In With Audio

Apple plans to expand its audio product line next year with new AirPods, HomePods and possibly studio-quality over-the-ear headphones. The new generation of AirPods will feature noise cancellation, be water resistant, and have greater range. Apple also may be adding noise cancellation to AirPods’ repertoire because in their current state they don’t stack up well against competing premium products from Bose and Plantronics, which do offer noise cancellation.
Apple also has been considering the addition of biometric sensors to the pods as a way of expanding its health-related hardware beyond the Apple Watch. The new AirPods are expected to cost more than the current $159 model, which reportedly will be refreshed later this year with a new chip and hands-free Siri activation. There were scant details about the next-generation HomePod.
Whatever the next-generation HomePod looks like, it’s going to be birthed in a very competitive market. Apple has positioning and pricing issues with the HomePod. Apple’s planned introduction of new audio products next year reflects an expanded role for audio in the company’s future. Accessories generate significant revenue for Apple. The company last year raked in $12.9 billion from its “Other Products” unit, which includes services and the Apple Watch. With much of Apple’s hardware business under pressure, its accessory business can be extremely important.

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