OPINION: I have to admit, when the AirPods Max had been first launched, I believed they had been a massively costly vogue accent masquerading as a pair of headphones.
They seemed odd, got here with a charging case that provided little safety, provided no hi-res audio assist, did the standard factor of solely taking part in good inside the Apple ecosystem and, after all, that eye-watering worth. Certainly the AirPods Max would fall to the identical destiny as the unique HomePod.
How mistaken I used to be.
Once I’m strolling round London, or commuting on public transport, I have a tendency to take a look at what headphones individuals are carrying. There are the standard suspects: Bose QuietComfort fashions, Sony WH-1000X (from Mark 3 to Mk5), the cheaper Sennheisers cans, Apple AirPods (and their true wi-fi imitators) and plenty of, many extra past that. However over the past 12 months I haven’t seen a pair of headphones as typically as I’ve the AirPods Max. In every single place I look, there’s an individual carrying them.
And it’s a stunning turnaround, no less than to me. When the AirPods Max first launched, they had been scarcely accessible. Even a number of months to a 12 months after they had been accessible, you’ll find articles on-line speaking about how a lot of successful they honestly are since they had been as uncommon as hen’s enamel.
However success isn’t measured in weeks and months however – within the case of the Max – it’s years, a gradual burn that’s grow to be extra well-liked among the many Apple favouring contingent. And probably the most fascinating facet about it are the individuals carrying the headphones. Not what you are promoting go well with carrying varieties with loads of cash to burn however those that are a lot youthful, individuals who seem like they’re of their early twenties or so. Maybe it’s a birthday current, possibly the headphones had been a Christmas present – I’m simply speculating right here – however the AirPods Max are proving to be very enticing to the younger, and seemingly prosperous market, who’re blissful to spend (or have another person spend) over £500 on a pair of headphones.
And it’s such a marked distinction by way of individuals’s expectations on what they’d spend on a pair of headphones. I’ve let my associates hearken to a pair of Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones (RRP £599) and requested them how a lot they assume the headphones value. All of them felt they might value round £200, thrice lower than what they value. Relating to electronics, individuals are inclined to assume in the direction of the cheaper finish of the spectrum: DVDs as an alternative of 4K Blu-rays, £300 55-inch 4K TVs as an alternative of spending £1000, £50 true wi-fi as an alternative of £200.
And the AirPods Max are one thing of a riposte to that, succeeding the place the primary HomePod failed – a product that’s one other case of affected by not being cheaper. Loads of costly headphones turned up earlier than the AirPods Max; Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic had been promoting loads of dear wired headphones, whereas Bang & Olufsen and Bowers & Wilkins weren’t averse to charging a premium for his or her headphones.
However regardless of their pedigree and experience within the audio market, Apple has basically gazumped them and crowbarred open the mass marketplace for wi-fi headphones. It’s important to give Apple numerous credit score for doing that, and it helps that the AirPods have such a detailed partnership with the iPhone, that’s very clearly the not-so secret weapon that provides Apple a bonus.
It appears like Apple is on its option to conquering over-ear headphones because it did in cannibalising gross sales within the true wi-fi market. Who would have thought that when you could possibly have barely discovered a pair for love nor cash in 2020?