Apple’s AirPods Max are upending the headphones market

Having once upended the market with its AirPods, Apple looks likely to again change the course of the $35 billion advanced headphones arena with its $549 AirPods Max and inflict pain on incumbents from Bose Corp. to Bang & Olufsen A/S, Vlad Savov reports for Bloomberg News.

AirPods Max bring the magic of AirPods to an all-new wireless over-ear design with high-fidelity audio, Active Noise Cancellation, spatial audio, and more.
Apple’s AirPods Max

AirPods Max combine a custom acoustic design, H1 chips, and advanced software to power computational audio for a breakthrough listening experience with Adaptive EQ, Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency mode, and spatial audio. AirPods Max come in five gorgeous colors, including space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink.

Vlad Savov for Bloomberg News:

Once a mainstay of audiophiles, headphones have become increasingly essential and sophisticated — particularly since the pandemic — as people rely on them for everything from online teaching and gaming to video conferencing. A mix of better tech and new entrants like China’s Xiaomi Corp. driving down prices helped smartphone makers like Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. secure 32% of global headphone shipments in 2020, according to Futuresource analyst Rasika D’Souza. That share was even higher in terms of revenue, she added. “Apple successfully created a niche for itself in this space by complementing its on-the-go ecosystem with a pair of truly wireless headphones” with the AirPods, D’Souza said.

For Apple, which first got into the market after acquiring Beats for $3 billion in 2014, the new hardware is also about enhancing content. The AirPods Max, which went on sale in December, have the processing power to adjust sound on the fly and support Apple’s nascent Spatial Audio feature, a Dolby Atmos rival that the company says improves movies and games by precisely positioning sound sources.

Spatial Audio works only in combination with an iPhone or iPad and a small selection of services so far, but could be a differentiator and has been lauded by reviewers including Harman’s Sean Olive, an audio industry veteran. The AirPods Max are a chance for Apple to twin its hardware with subscription services like Apple TV+ and offer a unique experience.

MacDailyNews Take: The reviews are in. And they rave. AirPods Max are serious cans. Apple has yet another hit on their hands!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. And once again, Apple does it by limiting the customer base of its product. AirPods DO work with non-Apple devices and audio output sources, but they’re designed to integrate with Apple’s core products. Apple is not marketing AirPods to Android and Windows users.

    Every other high-end headphones maker wants to expand (not limit) its potential customers as much as possible. So they make products that compromise to be compatible. It’s similar to Apple Watch versus the completion. AirPods exist to enhance customer experience using Apple’s core products, iPhone, iPad, and Macintosh (plus tv). AND thereby Apple increases sales of those core products because people want to use AirPods. Apple wins by playing by a different set of rules, in a game that only Apple plays effectively.

    1. You are absolutely correct. By creating quality products and know that users are willing to pay for the quality, they will sell $549 headphones. Adding connectivity to other products add more value to the headphones. They will have an Apple TV that will connect with the AirPod max and work with the spatial audio and make watching 4K movies more immersive.

    2. Windows and Android-first users aren’t high value customers to Apple. The Airpods Max are still selling out 3 months after their release. Their customer base is not limited, its chomping at the bit to buy every pair that Apple produces. The customers that are enticed into the ecosystem will be much more satisfied and lucrative for Apple than people who want broad compatibility (and would complain about the price anyway).

  2. Waiting for a “class-action” lawsuit to be filed in some activist-court that will claim that Apple forces someone to buy Apple products to get the full benefit of the expensive headphones …

  3. I’m holding off until they come out with the tech to use Spatial Audio with a large-screen TV. Honestly, what’s the point of enjoying surround sound if you’re stuck watching a movie on a five-inch screen?

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