Apple’s over-ear headphones, AirPods Max, have been the subject of much controversy on the Internet. One of them concerns the odd design of the protective case, which some compare to a bra or an eye mask. Especially since it doesn’t seem to protect that well. Is this Apple’s ultimate provocation? Where else is it an argument to sell premium protective covers? We open the debate here.
Yesterday, we relayed in our columns the official launch of AirPods Max, Apple’s new wireless headset. Behind this name hides the product we knew as ’AirPods Studio. Under that name, the helmet has been leaked extensively since April. And the most recent ones claimed that Apple could present it before the end of the year. So this was verified.
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It’s a high end accessory, of course. It’s a helmet circumaural with two independent earphones, covered with a mesh fabric for breathing and attached to the central stainless steel arch with periscope and rotating clips. It is compatible Dolby Atmos for spatial listening. It’s a helmet Bluetooth 5.0 integrating the chipset H1 which equips some headsets of the Apple and Beats brands, offering advanced connectivity with an iPhone or an iPad.
A helmet packed with technology, but sold very expensive
It is a helmet equipped with many sensors and nine microphones, the majority of which are dedicated to active noise reduction. Finally, it’s a helmet that promises 20 hours of battery life continuously, whether in audio playback or in conversation. It comes with a USB Type-C to Lightning charging cable and a protective cover that activates an ultra power saving mode.
Two elements particularly surprised journalists and technophiles who followed this launch. The first is the price: 629 euros in France (599 dollars across the Atlantic). No other brand sells headphones at this price, even those dedicated to high-end audio (like B&O, Bose or Sony). It makes you wonder how far the brand can go. And we also wonder if the brand will be able to market such a product at this price. Because the competition is strong. Perhaps this is primarily a statutory product, like the iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB?
A protective case that doesn’t protect much
The second problematic element is the protective case that comes with the helmet. The cleavage is obvious. Some find it moderately elegant. Others find it downright ugly, not hesitating to compare it to an eye mask (the one you use to desperately try to sleep on the plane), a purse, or a bra.
And, even if you think that tastes and colors cannot be argued, the case of the AirPods Max is objectively impractical. First, openings are everywhere, with a risk that the headphones or the telescopic branches will be damaged by other objects in your bag (because, you are not going to walk around with the helmet in your hand). This is especially true for the digital crown, which is used to interact with the helmet. She is very exposed. And it can therefore be damaged. No other high-end over-ear headphones are sold with an open protective cover.
An average free case to sell better cases?
Which obviously leads to a reflection. Why provide this cover with the AirPods Max? Several hypotheses are circulating on the Internet. The most obvious is commercial. Apple delivers you an impractical case, not very pretty, so that you fall for another case, of much better quality, but for a fee.
Apple has always explained that the company’s strategy is to sell products, not advertising data (look deep into Mountain View). So what is free is usually not good. The hyper-limited free iCloud plan. The EarPods wired hands-free kit has not changed for 5 years. The AC adapter previously supplied with iPhones supports 5-watt trickle charging. Etc.
For us, the logic is the same here. What do you think ? Please feel free to extend the debate in the comments below.