Apple Inc. launched its first over-ear headphones, entering a competitive market with rivals such as Bose Corp. and Sony Corp., and expanding its push into accessories to supplement revenue generated by its signature iPhone.
The pricey $550 headphones include wireless pairing and noise cancellation, like many on the market. They go on sale Tuesday and start arriving Dec. 15, Apple said Tuesday. The company touted superior audio quality and 20-hour battery life in its announcement.
The headphones work with Apple’s voice-activated Siri digital assistant and have physical side controls for music playback. They come in several colors: space gray, silver, blue, green and pink.
Bloomberg previously reported on the new headphones development in 2018 and on the features earlier this year. Apple stopped selling rival headphones and speakers in September, clearing the way for consumers to focus on the new offering. Apple had aimed to announce the headphones earlier, but it was delayed after the headband was deemed too tight in testing, Bloomberg reported in October.
Apple launched its AirPods earphones in 2016 when it removed the iPhone’s headphone jack. The product powered the company’s wearables sales, giving Apple a key growth driver beyond the iPhone. The AirPods were updated with a new version in 2019 and the upgraded AirPods Pro with noise cancellation were released in October of that year. Apple is also planning new AirPods for next year.
Read more: Apple Plans Smaller AirPods Pro, Revamped Entry-Level Model
In its last fiscal year, Apple generated $31 billion sales from accessories, including AirPods, Beats headphones and the Apple Watch. That’s more than the Mac and the iPad. The accessories business is instrumental to the company’s push to generate more revenue per user as people hold on to their iPhones longer.
The Apple headphones and AirPods are part of a broader audio product strategy that also includes the HomePod speaker and Beats headphones. Apple acquired Beats Electronics in 2014 for $3 billion and has been updating its hardware range even though it competes with Apple-branded accessories.
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