“Cole Kinnard has been pining for Apple Inc.’s wireless AirPod headphones since September, but the college sophomore recently scratched them off his Christmas list,” Tripp Mickle reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Three months after trumpeting the AirPods as a breakthrough technology, Apple still hasn’t made them available. It says it needs time before they’re ready for consumers. ‘I’m truly disappointed,’ said Mr. Kinnard, of St. Charles, Mo. He recently told his parents he wanted wireless headphones from Germany’s Bragi GmbH instead.”

“AirPods have become a rare public misstep for Apple. In September, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller hailed the earbuds as the entree to a wireless future, with seamless connection to an iPhone and a five-hour battery life,” Mickle reports. “At the September event, Mr. Schiller said the $159 headphones would begin shipping in October. Late that month, Apple said shipment was delayed. It hasn’t provided an update on when the devices might be available or given a reason for the wait.”

iPhone 7 with Apple's AirPods

iPhone 7 with Apple’s AirPods (shipping date TBD)

“Barclays in November said that production is expected to start this month, but Apple only plans to make 10 to 15 million units initially. By comparison, Apple shipped nearly 75 million phones in the final three months of 2015,” Mickle reports. “the delay has damaged Apple’s credibility and stoked frustration among consumers who can’t charge their iPhone 7 while listening to music or conducting a call, says Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. ‘It is an absolute black eye that they missed the holidays,’ Mr. Moorhead said… Apple’s problem ‘has to be something fairly major because they’ve missed the Christmas market with what had the potential to be a really sexy product,’ Nick Hunn, a Bluetooth expert and chief technologist with U.K.-based WiFore Wireless Consulting, said. ‘It’s something that’s blindsided them.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The article very charitably calls this a “rare” misstep on Apple’s part, but how rare is it, exactly?

Off the top of our heads:

• John Browett
• Apple Maps
• No iMacs for Christmas 2012
• Massive undersupply of Apple Watch at launch, basically killing all momentum
• Massive undersupply of Apple Pencils and Smart Keyboards on hand for the iPad Pro launch
• No updated Mac Pro for three years
• No updated Apple TV for Christmas 2016 (A 4K-capable Apple TV would have been so easy, it’s inexplicable and unforgivable not to have this on the market right now)
• No Apple skinny bundle(s) for Apple TV while other companies ink deals and announce launches – these customers will be tough for Apple to get back once lost, if they ever get the deals signed. (Perhaps, Tim, you need to hire better negotiator(s) who can get the ink? Or make an acquisition that reshapes the industry, causing them to line up to work with you?)
• No compatible Remote app for Apple TV at launch
• No Apple Music capability in Siri on Apple TV at launch
• Apple TV remote looks to have been “designed” by Steve Ballmer himself (If Steve wasn’t already dead, the Apple TV Remote would have killed him; he would’ve had an aneurysm the second the mockup was handed to him)*
• Flagship iPhone launches without its flagship feature (Portrait mode) and is currently still only in “beta” (seriously?)
• No new iPads for Christmas 2016 (Even simply “refreshed” with current A-series processors would have created more sales)
• No updated iMacs for Christmas 2016
• No updated Mac mini for 2+ years
• No AirPods for Christmas 2016

Answer: The fact is, sadly, that at the post-Steve Jobs Apple, missteps really aren’t that rare at all.

*With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth. Only the Siri button attempts to be different, but the slightness of its concavity is too subtle to matter; a raised dot on the button would have been much easier for users to feel. The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A remote with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.

Lazy Apple. It’s not hard to imagine Steve Jobs asking, ‘What have you been doing for the last four years?’ – December 9, 2016
Tim Cook: Apple will begin to ship AirPods over the next few weeks – December 1, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook still hasn’t introduced a mega-hit and investors are growing impatient – November 23, 2016