With recent reports coming out of Cupertino, Apple has all but confirmed its plans to ditch the headphone jack in its iPhone 7, sending owners of high-end headphones into a completely understandable tizzy.
The reasons being touted are Apple's aim at reducing thickness by 1mm and the introduction of the Lightning cable for better, higher definition sound.
But, Apple's decision might not be as altruistic or benign as it seems.
Since acquiring Beats by Dr. Dre in 2014, Apple has been making its products available in both its exclusive stores as well as with its authorized resellers. However, it has still been unable to incorporate Beats into its existing product line, with the foremost of course being the iPhones.
This looks all set to change with these new developments. Apple's Beats is said to be working on a new line of 'Airpods' that completely cut the cord. Speculated to be similar to Bragi's Dash; while the new pair is still in the prototyping process, we can expect it to show up as a premium optional accessory from Apple's stable.
The Airpods are expected to deliver a true wire-free experience, which means the battery resides inside the tiny headphone assembly along with the sound driver and audio chips. There will be need for two audio chips since both headphones will work individually and not be connected to each other.
This might seem like a development further in the future, users can be fairly certain that the new EarPods will come with a l ightning jack at the end cable instead of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apart from promoting brands like Beats, JBL and Phillips that have models with lightning cables due to tie-ups with the giant, Apple may also be accused of changing the cord to lock both consumers and headphone manufacturers into Apple's ecosystem while taking advantage of the MFi system that already exists.
The MFi Program encompasses third-party hardware accessories that use Apple’s MFi licensed technology to connect electronically to iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple Watch. MFi licensed technology includes the 30 pin and Lightning connector.
At the moment, Apple charges $4 per connector on a product. A “pass-through” connector would be equal to double license fees. Which means any headphone OEM or third-party wanting to create a lead or pass-through connector has to license the technology from Apple. Which equals to massive amount of licensed revenue coming to Apple along with the iPhone 7.
This move doesn't only affect consumers and the headphone industry, it also affects any third party application that uses the 3.5mm jack. Manufacturers of music players and amplifers like FiiO may face a lot of upheavals in the future.
And if this doesn't make you apprehensive enough, you will be unable to listen to music while you charge your iPhone (unless you get a pair of expensive wireless Airpods!).
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