iPhone 7 - Impact of Ditching the Audio Port

December 14, 2015

The iPhone 7, the next version of Apple's overwhelmingly popular phone, to be unveiled in 2016 is rumored to have a design overhaul. The big news from the audio perspective is the universal 3.5mm audio port may actually be removed (gasp!) to accomodate the thinner industrial design.
Philips Fidelio NC1L

This should shake the living daylights of the major headphone manufacturers out there. Granted that many have migrated to sell wireless Bluetooth units but quite a few have clearly not done so. Let's take a look at the impact.

What are the Implications?

1. Increase in Wireless Headphones

A no brainer. Many audio manufacturers have wired and wireless offerings. If the removal of the audio jack comes to fruition, those that don't already have wireless earphones will have to ramp up their efforts to get a Bluetooth offering before the iPhone 7 launch. There are actually quite a few folks such as RHA and Grado that may need to put in some R&D effort straight away.

2. What About the Top Brands?

Among the top brands by revenue in 2014 according to The NPDGroup, most of them have wireless offerings in the over-ears, on-ears and sports categories. While Bose and Sennheiser have wireless over-ears and on-ears offerings, both these brands are conspicuously absent in the sports wireless segment. You can expect these big players to upgrade their sports arsenal of products very soon.

3. Rise of Lightning Earphones?

While you may scoff at the idea of earphones with a Lightning jack, let's take a step back to reflect. If you remember, in 1998, on Steve Jobs' second coming, he removed the floppy drive from the iMac. Many baulked at this insane move but as you know, the rest is history. In 2009, the major handphone manufacturers were persuaded by the European Union to move to the near universal micro-USB standard for charging. Only Apple chose to use something else - their Lightning connector. 

Only a company like Apple would have the balls to do something different from the other manufacturers out there. As such, Lightning earphones may very well take off. Philips and JBL have already launched such products for close to a year with benefits such as a direct digital connection and a lighter profile for noise-canceling (no battery needed) as power is drawn from the iPhone. Just last week, Audeze released the EL-8 Titanium headphones (USD 799.95) with (*drum roll*) a Lightning connector. Expect quite a few more to follow.

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    Branding And Marketing Consultant Singapore


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