AirPods good to use

Apple’s new wireless AirPods are finally available.

The company on Tuesday began taking orders for AirPods at its online store, and said it would start delivering the US$159 earphones to customers, Apple Stores, resellers and carriers next week.

At the iPhone 7 launch in September, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the AirPods would be available in October, but the company missed that target time frame due to unexplained delays.

Missing the deadline for release of any hot product is bad news for a company, but what made the AirPods miss worse was that the they were supposed to offset some of the sting consumers felt over Apple’s decision to omit the traditional headphone jack in the iPhone 7.

“Someone clearly dropped the ball, because without something like this with the iPhone 7 the attached sales for the earbuds were stalled, and it made it harder to sell iPhone 7s,” noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“Both products should have shown up at the same time,” he told TechNewsWorld.

 

Missed Opportunity

However, the absence of AirPods doesn’t seem to have affected iPhone 7 sales that much.

“Sales of the iPhone 7 seem to be doing well,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

“The absence of AirPods hasn’t been a deal breaker for consumers interested in the phone,” he told TechNewsWorld.

On the other hand, the late release certainly will impact sales of the AirPods.

“Apple missed an attractive cross-sell opportunity when the new iPhones were released,” Rubin noted, “and they missed the Black Friday opportunity, when there would have been increased traffic going through stores.”

AirPods still could be a popular item this Christmas, though.

“It’s a relatively small product, easy to pick up online, easy to ship,” Rubin pointed out. “It could still wind up in stockings or under trees.”

 

Chip Trouble

Apple is being mum about what caused the delay in bringing the AirPods to market, but several reports link it to the new W1 wireless chip in the headphones.

“There’s definitely been a problem with the supply chain, and the best I can figure it was related to the custom Apple W1,” said Kevin Krewell, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

If that’s the case, though, it wouldn’t explain why Apple could ship the Beats Solo 3 and Powerbeat 3 headphones, which also use the chip. Another Beats model, however, the X BT, also is experiencing delays and may not reach retail shelves until next year.

“It could be that Apple needed more time fine-tuning the chip for rated battery life,” Krewell told TechNewsWorld.

Battery life is one of several drawbacks that have dampened demand for products similar to the AirPods.