Do Apple AirPods Premium need repair? I have some ideas

It’s 2024 and Apple is announcing the discontinuation of its AirPods Max over-ear headphones. The sentiment around the news is a mixture of disappointment and disinterest. For one thing, reviewers and consumers alike have agreed that these are wonderful-sounding headphones. The ANC and Transparency modes were each best in class. The build quality was impeccable. People who bought the headphones are extremely disappointed that their products are disappearing and no replacement is on the horizon. On the other hand, almost everyone who wanted to buy AirPods Max couldn’t afford it, and so a quick faintness of indifference fell over the demise of the niche product.

This future is easy to predict because it is a close reality to what has already happened to the HomePod, Apple’s home Wi-Fi speaker. The HomePod was remarkable when it was first released: it had a compact size, but the songs still exploded with a deep richness. Five years after its debut in June 2017, the HomePod still offers a competitive edge over other home Wi-Fi speakers in terms of size and sound.

Much of the HomePod’s problem revolved around its long-running price of $349 when other speakers with voice assistants were noticeably cheaper. The similarities between the HomePod and the AirPods Max are obvious. So before a day in the future comes when Apple discontinues its wireless ANC headphones, here’s how I would handle the AirPods Max and surrounding products to give them the best chance of survival.

Max AirPods Price

Most people agree that the AirPods Max are great headphones. Most people also agree that they are way overpriced. I don’t mean a little more expensive than competitors, but a lot more for comparable features and performance. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 is about $200 less while its all-new top-of-the-line WH-1000XM5 headphones are about $150 less.

Are the AirPods Max worth their nearly $550 retail price? Perhaps. The absolute price is arbitrary – it doesn’t matter. But like the HomePod, and from the outside, it looks like the AirPods Max is just too expensive to attract enough people to keep the product viable.

If the same HomePod had launched for $249 instead of the still steep price tag of $349, I think it would have been a smash hit from day one. More people would have experienced the sound of music and been enthusiastic evangelists of it. Even the $299 launch might have been enough to get it into more homes.

Whether or not people want the AirPods Max price to be lower, that may not be possible depending on the parts and manufacturing costs as the product was designed. If Apple doesn’t drop its price significantly, then something else has to change to help keep the AirPods running smoothly.

A range of AirPods

AirPods Max
AirPods Max are heavy compared to other wireless headphones.
Tyler Hayes

Despite missteps in the past, Apple has a good understanding of the type of products it builds and what each product would need to cost to enter its desired market. So if the company wants its AirPods Max to be a roughly $500 product, there should probably be a pair of gateway headphones that bridge the price gap between the $249 AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max, currently. at $549.

To get an idea of ​​the price of the AirPods Max and potentially other new AirPods headphones, it’s worth looking at the entire line of AirPods products. The third generation of AirPods starts at $179. It’s not the floor price, but it’s the entry-level price of the latest AirPods product.

Right now, there’s only a $70 cost difference between AirPods and AirPods Pro. Apple raised the price of the third-generation AirPods when they were released, so I have no doubt they could do the same when the new AirPods Pro come out. I think $279 for the AirPods Pro makes more sense. The small bump creates a $100 price difference between the two products and should make it easier for consumers to decide whether they really want the extra features for the price or not.

Looking at Bose and Sony, the other notable leaders in high-end wireless headphones, I think a $349-$399 price tag makes perfect sense for a new entry in Apple’s personal audio line. . A retail price of $399 for, say, AirPods Studio would be a $120 increase over the AirPods Pro, while another $130 more could finally net you the more premium AirPods Max.

Apple is a master of pricing intervals, once it gets there. In its day, there was an iPod available, with different features, for any amount of money you were willing to spend. The iPhone, to a lesser extent, has carved out a range of devices from the cheapest to the very expensive. The AirPods line is moving in that direction, but there’s a huge price gap right now.

Different materials

If price is the biggest hurdle for potential AirPods Max buyers, I think product weight is second. The metal ear cups and headband are nice and probably make them extremely durable when the push is on. But the materials also make the headphones much heavier than most other wireless headphones. I’ve found that wearing heavy headphones changes my posture and generally limits how long I want to keep them on my head.

If Apple were to squeeze in a new pair of AirPods Studio earbuds priced at $399, I think changing the materials is one way to differentiate the new ones. A lightweight material like plastic, or whatever, could help reduce construction costs while still being able to target different consumers, such as those in a fitness category. It would be much easier to use wireless headphones at the gym if they were half the weight of the Max, or even lighter.

If the AirPods Max remain the only headphones in the line, hopefully some of their materials will be redesigned. It might make sense to keep the metal frame for the headband, but removing the ear cups could cut costs and reduce weight in one fell swoop.

AirPods Max 2 and HomePod 2

AirPods Max
The HomePod was discontinued in 2021.
Tyler Hayes

As of May 2022, there’s a HomePod mini, but no HomePod. “Mini” is the slightest hint that another product named HomePod could make its way to market. There have also been rumors of home theater-related HomePods in the future.

Whatever happens with Apple’s home audio products, hopefully the company finds a way to replicate HomePod sound in a more affordable or sustainable way. The $99 HomePod mini is a sign that the company now understands the mission. Personally, I always want a speaker with more depth and musical prowess. The HomePod sting persists because it’s so unique. Even the cylindrical Mac Pro, which was also a unique product, was kept until a replacement was ready.

As for the AirPods Max, they’re priced so much higher than other AirPods that there’s room for a more budget-friendly pair of headphones to slot under them and for the Max to remain the halo, the flagship. Having another pair of headphones only strengthens the overall range and provides an easier ladder for consumers to slide back and forth. At this point, I’m just hoping the AirPods Max will make it to a second generation.

Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products that we support. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may receive commissions on editorially selected products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

Leave a Comment