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Apple's AirPods Max are 'upending the big headphones market'

Airpods Max Iphone 11 Pro
Airpods Max Iphone 11 Pro (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new Bloomberg report looks at how Apple is changing the headphone market with its AirPods Max play.
  • The competition is both worried and pleased by AirPods Max's arrival.

Apple's AirPods Max had been rumored for a long time when Apple unveiled them, but we weren't quite ready for that $549 asking price. Despite rumors that prices could be high, it still took many by surprise. But despite that price, a new report notes that audio market incumbents are taking notice of Apple's headphone play.

Writing for Bloomberg, Vlad Savov points out that the likes of Bose and Bang & Olufson have no choice but to pay attention to Apple, with the iPhone maker changing the headphone market with the launch of AirPods Max.

Futuresource analyst Rasika D'Souza told Savov that Apple has been successful in creating a "niche" for itself.

"Apple successfully created a niche for itself in this space by complementing its on-the-go ecosystem with a pair of truly wireless headphones" with the AirPods, D'Souza said. "Other smartphone vendors have really benefited from this trend."

The arrival of AirPods Max at the $549 price point means that some companies now have a new window of opportunity because they can potentially increase the price of their own wares. But companies that normally play in that space now have new competition, something they haven't had to deal with before.

"The AirPods Max will open the door for higher-priced wireless headphones from the incumbents such as Sony, Jabra, and Bose," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. But "it will also put pressure on audiophile brands such as Bang & Olufsen and Master & Dynamic, as these companies have faced little competition within their price segments."​

The headphone market is now more important than ever as people continue to work from home as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. People want the best headphones for working from home specifically – and with features like noise canceling technology and more, AirPods Max are a compelling product.

You can read the full Bloomberg piece for more information on where AirPods Max sit with relation to products from more established audio companies.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.