Jose Palomino

Apple AirPods: The Dangers of Scrapping the Old Model

December 6, 2016

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Image Credit: SoloNews

Apple’s announcement for the new iPhone 7 came with a number of changes, including scrapping the physical home button, the return of the 3G-esque glossy finish, waterproofing, and a much improved camera. However, the change which got the most backlash from Apple users was the absence of a headphone jack, and the advent of AirPods.

Instead of being able to plug your headphones into your iPhone, you will now need to use a headset with Bluetooth capabilities. For a lot of people, this change has sparked irritation — and made previous users wary of purchasing the new model.

Impractical

In their feverish quest to install a home button which isn’t actually a button at all, but a Taptic feedback pad, Apple has run out of space for a headphone jack. I can’t help but feel this is really just a bad judgement call on their part — the users who will truly appreciate a button that isn’t a button are few, but the ones who will miss being able to plug in their headphones are many.

Yes, Apple is renowned for their ability to push the innovation envelope. But, innovation shouldn’t be raised above actual usefulness. Sure, they’re going to make a little extra money off of every new iPhone 7 user, who has to purchase either the AirPods or a converter — but it won’t be worth it.

Plus — the AirPods are tiny and not connected to anything, which means each and every one of us is going to lose them at some point, whether it’s in the couch cushions at home or on the train to work. And the fact that they have to be charged means no more overnight flights listening to your favorite smooth tunes.

Unfamiliar

No matter how good the AirPods turn out to be, the decision to get rid of the headphone jack may mean some sales decline for Apple. A lot of the anger around Apple’s iPhone 7 announcement seemed to stem from the fact that people are happy with the way headphones work now.

The AirPods are a costly, impractical change. Those iPhone users who prefer Bluetooth headphones have always gotten them from other sources — and the majority who use wired earbuds aren’t eager to have the choice taken away from them.

(Alright, if you’re inseparable from your old wired headphones, you can still buy a converter from Apple to plug into the Lightning Port — but that means you can’t charge and listen at the same time, and you’ve got to carry around another bulky attachment.)

Quality

Apple has delayed the release of their AirPods a few times already — in fact, they’re still not on sale even after the release of the iPhone 7. Nevertheless, reviews of the product have surfaced — and they aren’t the greatest.

Wired gave the AirPods a 5 out of 10 score. While they’re about as good sound-wise as the Apple EarPods (i.e. not very), their real value lies in the new features — wireless connection, a number of motion-based commands and responses, and a superb microphone. Wired also thinks they’re kind of ugly — like a wearing a “toothbrush in your ear.”

The real quality issue that Apple is going to have is competition with other Bluetooth headphones. For the $159 you’re going to be paying for the AirPods, users will have much better options. Apple isn’t a major player in the headphone game — but for that price, they’re going to have to figure out a way to become a major player.

Bottom line:


 
There’s always a risk to scrapping the old model of how you serve your customers. In any situation, you face a degree of backlash from customers who are familiar with the way things are “supposed to be”, and don’t want them to change. Always, always make sure the changes you’re making — however radical — are a true improvement on the old way.

  • Have you ever made a change only to discover it may have been the wrong choice?
  • What’s your opinion on the AirPods? Are they really so impractical?
  • Do you think Apple has become too obsessed with making every new model sleeker and simpler?

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