Apple has two ways to move the technology bar forward. The first is massive, revolutionary innovation. Think iTunes, iPod, iPhone, App Store, iPat, Watch, and couple those with Retina displays, flash storage, and other components which Apple uses to push the technology industry forward by leaps.
The second is step-by-step, mostly boring incremental innovation. These are the year-by-year changes that are improvements, yes, but far less revolutionary in nature. Think trackpad, Touch ID, 3D Touch and Force Touch as recent examples.
Word on the proverbial streets from people with good prognostication track records indicates Apple is about to make another leap forward with a revolutionary design change. No headphone jack. Yes, that analog technology is almost as ubiquitous among modern technology as electricity and often it’s tied into earbuds and headphones, both of which come in a variety of designs and display technology from Bluetooth to Lightning to the 19th century design in a mini-jack package.
Say goodbye to the headphone jack in iPhone 7 (if not all models, at least the high end Plus model). What will replace it? The Lightning connector. Wait. How is that a leap forward? It’s not. With Lightning connected earbuds or headphones you can’t even charge an iPhone while listening to music. Other than saving a bit of space in the iPhone itself, what’s the point? Replacing the headphone jack and cord with a Lightning connector and cord is pointless.
Unless Apple has something else in mind. Like wireless AirPods.
Wireless earbuds and headphones have been around awhile and are gaining ground against the ancient headphone jack technology, but haven’t entered mainstream. Now it’s time.
That has a nice ring to it, no? Here’s what I think. Apple’s new iPhone 7 model, sans the headphone jack, will not ship with standard analog headphone jack earbuds. Instead, the iPhone will have a pair of wireless AirPods; earphones made specifically for Apple.
Now that’s a revolution, especially if the AirPod wireless earbuds are anything like the Bragi earphones. Smart earphones.
If Apple made wireless smart earphones there is a good chance they would look, feel, and work much like Bragi. The touch controls are like swiping on a touchscreen or trackpad. Customize settings, take incoming phone calls with a tap. Bragi has its own iPhone app. The earphones can store up to 4GB of music (about 1,000 songs). Easily mute outside sounds or allow the sound around you to merge with whatever you’re listening to at the moment.
In other words, these are the wireless earbuds you’ve always wanted. But they’re made by Bragi, not Apple, though the iPhone maker is rumored to be working on its own version of wireless smart earphones.
Interestingly, Bragi’s CEO has teased an announcement set for next Monday. At 10:00 AM. Cupertino time.
From Nikolaj, CEO@BRAGI: “I have a BIG announcement on Monday September 5th at 10AM Cupertino / 7pm Munich time. Tune in on our Facebook page for the live announcement.”
Apple isn’t scheduled to introduce the new iPhone 7 until Wednesday, September 7th, so what’s up with Bragi? And why announce anything on Labor Day in the U.S. and why announce whatever it is in Cupertino, unless, 1) Apple plans to buy Bragi, or, 2) Bragi wants to one-up Apple because it knows Apple’s wireless smart earphones will sell like shaved ice in Atlanta in the summer.
We’ll have to wait to see but I’m betting on the following.
- iPhone 7 will ship without the standard headphone jack
- Apple will introduce multiple smart wireless earphones
- Apple will sell a Lightning connector to headphone jack adapter
- Apple’s high end earphones will be Bragi-like and have the Beats label
- I’m thinking Apple AirPods or Beats Buds
The wireless earphones included with the iPhone 7 may not be as smart as the Bragi earphones which come with a $299 price tag, but Beats will have similarly smart technology and possibly for a similar price. That’s the direction the industry is already going but it needs Apple to push it public and make it mainstream. AirPods will do that.