Jackless iPhone may boost wireless headphone sales

Apple’s decision to remove the long-serving 3.5mm headphone jack on its new iPhone 7 could be music to the ears of retailers and wireless headphone manufacturers.

The latest smartphone from the California-based tech giant only features the Apple Lightning port, which will now be used for charging, syncing and audio playback.

The iPhone 7 will include a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor for those consumers who still wish to use their existing audio devices and headphones. A new range of wireless, chargeable headphones, called AirPods, are available from the manufacturer for use with the iPhone 7. They will be sold separately from the phone and will be available in October, retailing for around £159.

Said Imran Choudhary, key account manager, technology for analyst GfK: “Major retailers will have been paying close attention to Apple’s announcement, as there is a clear opportunity to offer bundle deals for a Lightning connector or a wireless headset with the new handsets. It will be exciting to see how the major manufacturers react to this news and what the retailers do in the light of this announcement.”

Apple also introduced a new range of Beats by Dre headphones – all of which feature the same W1 chip found inside the new Apple AirPods.

Imran Choudhary
Imran Choudhary

As well as updating its Solo Wireless and Powerbeats range, Beats debuted a new in-ear wireless earphone called the Beats X.

Apple said the W1 chip produces extremely efficient wireless for a better connection and improved sound. It also manages battery life, so you can listen for five hours on a single charge.

Said Mr Choudhary: “It will come as no surprise to many that the launch of Apple’s all-new AirPods – a stylish and fully wireless version of their iconic EarPods – coincided with its new handset launch. Alongside this, the Apple-owned headphone manufacturer, Beats, also chose the same week to launch its new range of fully wireless headphones to the market.

“It is clear that Apple’s intentions are for all new iPhone 7 customers to make the wireless switch and invest in wireless or Bluetooth-enabled headsets and headphones as their primary listening device. Elsewhere, in the Android universe, Motorola’s Moto Z became the first Android phone on the market without a 3.5mm jack, adopting a USB C-only design instead.”

Looking towards the future, Mr Choudhary said: “We know from past experiences that moves made by Apple, however small, are then adopted by the wider mobile market. The impact of the AirPods on consumers will be to bring this technology to the mainstream.

“Many consumers will come into the wireless and Bluetooth headset and headphones markets, which will continue to drive growth in these categories. However, with Apple’s move, many customers buying AirPods and similar pieces of kit will have had no prior experience using wireless headphones or headsets. For these consumers, it might lead to a bit of step change in their behaviour, as they learn to charge their headsets, as well as their phones.”