A new 2024 strategy: Apple focuses on AirPods and other wearables

An image of the Apple AirPods 3
(Image credit: Apple)

Nearly nine years ago, when The New York Times ran a story about how China had helped Apple achieve a remarkable first quarter in 2015, it noted how the iPhone was at the center of the company’s success: “Sales of iPhones accounted for 69 percent of the company’s revenue in the quarter, up from 56 percent in the same quarter a year ago.” And for more than 15 years, Apple’s focus on developing and marketing the iPhone has paid off.

But in 2024, the company appears to be pivoting to a new strategy: Apple will focus on AirPods and other wearables, according to Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter on Bloomberg. One reason for the shift is iPhone sales (along with sales of iPads and Macs) were down last year. 

However, sales of wearables also declined, but the focus may be due to the introduction of products with alluring new technologies, like the Vision Pro, which is part of the wearables division. 

Can AirPods and other Apple wearables make up for declines in iPhone sales? 

Yet when it comes to AirPods, in some ways it's not just about new technology, but about making a product that's distinguishable from other AirPod models. Gurman says that the current AirPods (3rd generation) models aren't distinctive enough: "The company’s current $179 earbuds—its third-generation, mid-tier model — have been somewhat of a dud with consumers. They look similar to the AirPods Pro, but don’t offer features that are notably better than the $129 second-generation AirPods from 2019."

So, in 2024, Apple will overhaul the fourth-generation AirPods and provide them with new designs (both earbuds and the charging cases). Of course, they'll also allow for USB-C charging. What's more, the higher end of the two will have a noise cancellation. And Apple will also provide the next version of the AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones with USB-C charging capabilities.  

One more thing: It's possible that the next AirPods Pro models, which could be introduced at the end of next year, might be the first to introduce another exciting feature: a hearing aid. That confirms research that was published by iScience, which compared AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, and hearing aids to confirm their respective acoustic characteristics."Our results indicated that AirPods Pro met four out of five PSAP standards," the report notes.

Terry Sullivan

Terry Sullivan has tested and reported on many different types of consumer electronics and technology services, including cameras, action cams, mobile devices, streaming music services, wireless speakers, headphones, smart-home devices, and mobile apps. He has also written extensively on various trends in the worlds of technology, multimedia, and the arts. For more than 10 years, his articles and blog posts have appeared in a variety of publications and websites, including The New York Times, Consumer Reports, PCMag, Worth magazine, Popular Science, Tom’s Guide, and Artnews. He is also a musician, photographer, artist, and teacher.