“In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, Kuo predicts Apple to debut a branded high-end, over-ear headphone with an ‘all new’ design to add to its growing audio accessory lineup. A specific launch timeline was not provided, but Kuo believes the device is unlikely to debut prior to the fourth quarter of 2018.
Though not specified in the note, the headphones will likely feature wireless connectivity. Kuo says Apple is aiming to deliver a product that boasts the convenience of AirPods but with better acoustic qualities.”
It’s not surprising that Apple is planning to do more in personal audio; it’s the perfect complement to its Apple Music service. The HomePod, while interesting, suffers from a Cupertino-imposed sound signature that is not flattering to all music, similar to the Beats headphones. If Apple were to make their own branded headphones, I would expect them to introduce some interesting audio technology, notably providing headphones with a built-in DAC that only work over the lightning connector. The company has lots of opportunities to play with advanced sound technologies, though in headphones there are more limitations than in a speaker.
I wouldn’t expect Apple to get rid of the Beats brand any time soon; I’d think that an Apple headphone will be premium priced, more as a showcase of what the company can do than as a mass consumer device. For now. I expect Apple to do a lot more with audio in the future.