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Apple's AirPods won't be ready for the holidays

Beck Diefenbach / REUTERS

Apple announced the AirPods during September’s “See You” event with a scheduled launch at the end of October. But late that month, the company delayed shipments without setting a release date in the future. Well, the tech titan’s wireless headphones still haven’t come out and it’s unclear when they’ll finally be ready for the public. For a company that places enormous emphasis on the pageantry of dramatically unveiling and releasing its products to a ravenous public, this is an unusual and humbling letdown.

It’s the first product postponement since the white iPhone 4 back in 2010, which Apple claims was delayed due to manufacturing challenges. But the company has kept mum about why they’re withholding the AirPods from store shelves. It’s likely caused by their added complexity, a source familiar with their development told The Wall Street Journal. Unlike normal wireless headphones, which receive signal over Bluetooth in only one earpiece, both AirPod pieces do. That means Apple’s product must reconcile any delays and sync audio between them, while also addressing what happens if one of the pair’s battery dies or is lost.

Apple’s silence is tough luck for folks hoping to snag a pair for a Christmas gift. But as we noted when the AirPods were first delayed, their iPhone 7-interfacing W1 chip is present in two models of Beats headphones, the Solo3 and Powerbeats 3. Otherwise, Apple’s loss is their competitors’ gain: Wireless headphones finally outsold wired in the first half of 2016. Technically, people are still buying more pairs of wired ones, but Bluetooth headphones’ high prices mean the money has finally tipped into that camp. Just how much Apple lost out by failing to make its $160-per-unit AirPods available this holiday season is anyone’s guess.

About the author

David Lumb

16 Comments

  • Yes apple have got courage to release the new macbook non pro , and remove the headphone jack because they know the apple fans will buy anything with the apple name and logo on it .? even a pile of dog ???? .

  • Oh Apple. Getting rid of a perfectly useful headphone jack and blundering yet another product release.

    What the heck are all the employees doing? They’ve released one computer in the last 4 years and even that is a big bag of bug hurt.
  • What the trouble is , that apple are having troubles with the paired apple dongles that go with them , when you plug the dongles on to the airpods they should light up , but they can not get them to work yet .? thats why they did want to release them at hoilday time , oh dear what a sham or shame !

  • This is of cource not the first time apple has postsponed anything . What about the apple HDTV that they was never working on ? oh yes and the apple icar , now its only a software dongle !

  • So in sept. apple event , apple said we will see you ! in the holiday period , but a bit of good luck we wont be seeing the airpods , so its gonna be a good holiday then !

  • How can you say that about apple , if they had the courage to release the new macbook non pro recently , now that does takes courage to release crap like that !

  • I know we joke and everything but every now and then you actually do sound like an escaped mental patient, and this is one of those times.

  • Well it does look like apple copies as well , they look like womans tampons

    will they be sold in your local chemist too . and do they come in rose gold ?
    And of course the apple loss by failing to release on holiday time is of only a small number ! I just think when you can get these and wear them with your apple watch , you will really look smart ! lol lol lol , I think they will make your iphone sound like a baked beans tin ?
  • It does;t. The title is misleading, and this information was already outdated by the time that Engadget posted the article.

    Other sources have said that it is mass-manufacturing that has proven more difficult. This makes more sense, and it’s likely that Apple wants the device to ship in a sufficient quantity at launch (well I say sufficient, demand will naturally outstrip supply). I predict they’re close to fixing mass-production issues, and will manufacture at the end of Dec for a January launch date.

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