One of the worst-kept secrets about Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 7 is now all but confirmed. European sales certificates leaked for Apple AirPods wireless headphones — documentation that would appear to be the final nail in the headphone jack’s coffin.
Why Ditch the Headphone Jack with iPhone 7?
Rumors have been flying for months that Apple was ditching the headphone jack with the iPhone 7. It quickly turned into a flashpoint issue. Many people thought AAPL would be ridiculous to eliminate support for a standard port that has been in use for decades. Especially when the move makes existing wired headphones useless without an adapter of some sort.
Some are concerned about forcing users to adopt headphones that plug into the iPhone 7’s Lighting port, or to turn to wireless headphones like the AirPods. They think that way, Apple has the opportunity to interject DRM (digital rights management) into the listening experience. Plus, wireless headphones still can’t match the quality of wired audio and rely on batteries that must be recharged.
Posts written about the strategy tend to be along the lines of this reaction from The Verge: “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid.”
From Apple’s perspective, the primary reason for getting rid of the headphone jack seems to be to make it easier to create a waterproof iPhone. Maybe AAPL wants to shave another millimeter off the newest iPhone, too.
Enter the AirPods
If there was any hope that Apple Inc. would bow to pressure and stick with the traditional headphone jack for the iPhone 7, that pretty much died with a MacRumors report yesterday. The website discovered regulatory certification from the Eurasian Economic Union, for a new Apple product called AirPods.
Pair that official documentation with the leaked photos that purportedly showed wireless earbuds packed in with what appears to be a boxed iPhone 7, and it seems highly likely that we won’t just be seeing an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unveiled at Apple’s Sept. 7 event. It appears pretty much a done deal that the headphone jack will be buried then as well.
That will leave iPhone fans to choose between a Lightning adapter to plug in their old-school wired headphones or new AirPods wireless earbuds from Apple.
Even though the photos that have been circulating appear to show the AirPods as pack-ins with the iPhone 7, that seems like an unlikely move on AAPL’s part.
What’s Coming Sept. 7
Instead, the more realistic scenario is that on Sept. 7, CEO Tim Cook will unveil the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, minus the headphone jack.
He’ll play up the space savings and water resistance gains made by abandoning the “ancient” technology, and will laud the advances of digital sound delivered by the Lightning port. He’ll point out that Apple will keep supporting you in your ancient ways by providing a Lighting adapter in the iPhone 7 box so you can continue using dusty old gear. And then he’ll take the wraps off a new premium, ultimate audio solution, the Apple AirPods — undoubtedly referencing Beats technology as part of the substantial price tag.
That’s my guess, but we’ll find out for sure in one week.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.