Apple’s Big Wireless Bet: Trying to Perfect Mediocre Experiences Into the Sublime


Posted on: September 9th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple revealed one its latest creations this week: A new pair of wireless headphones that it is calling AirPods, which Apple says will cure the ills of the wireless audio experience.

While many have been dazzled by Apple’s new wireless offering, it is really an evolution of existing products.

It’s a strategy that has proven successful for the company time and time again in the past: Take a mediocre user experience, perfect it and market it well.

When it comes to Apple’s strategy, “there’s this idea of taking a current category and perfecting it, and then many of these competitors follow,” Patrick Moorhead, a tech industry analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.

The company did not invent MP3 players, but it did invent the iPod — one of the best-selling and perhaps the most iconic MP3 player on the market. It did not invent notebook computers, but its MacBooks (in their various versions) have been a hit.

Likewise, Apple didn’t invent wireless headphones. Wireless stereo headphones based on Bluetooth (the most commonly used connectivity method) have been around since 2004. In fact, it’s not even Apple’s first foray into this technology, with several of its Beats brand headphones using Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to devices.

But in much, if not all, of the promotional material surrounding its new wireless headphone offering, you won’t see Bluetooth mentioned. Instead, the tech giant is touting the W1 Chip — its first wireless chip, which is based on Bluetooth technology.

And there may be a good reason the name Bluetooth isn’t being thrown around.

“Consumers generally don’t like Bluetooth headphones, and are generally dissatisfied with Bluetooth in general,” Moorhead said. The process of pairing (initially connecting wireless devices) and switching the connection between devices is particularly frustrating.

With W1 (and devices that will employee it), Apple is taking advantage of the useful bits of Bluetooth connectivity to handle wireless transmission, and tacking on features that it says will be improvements on the frustrating bits of the Bluetooth experience — namely the initial pairing and hand-off to other devices.

“Up till now, no one has taken on the challenge to really deliver the audio experience wirelessly between your mobile device and your headphones,” Apple’s Phil Schiller said during Wednesday’s announcement.

And in a nod to some of these frustrations, he added: “Up till now no one has taken on the challenge of fixing the things that are difficult to do in those wireless experiences and made it easy so that we all want to enjoy them.”

If Apple and its W1 Chip is able to substantially improve the wireless headphone experience over the current Bluetooth offerings, then it may push others to step up their game as well.

“I think that if AirPods work as well as they demonstrated on stage and at the event,” said Moorhead, who tested the wireless earbuds after the event, “then I can see the industry shifting more toward a wireless world.”

“Maybe this is the motivation the Bluetooth community needs to improve the quality of the experience,” he added.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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Apple’s Big Wireless Bet: Trying to Perfect Mediocre Experiences Into the Sublime


Posted on: September 9th, 2016 by ABC News No Comments

JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple revealed one its latest creations this week: A new pair of wireless headphones that it is calling AirPods, which Apple says will cure the ills of the wireless audio experience.

While many have been dazzled by Apple’s new wireless offering, it is really an evolution of existing products.

It’s a strategy that has proven successful for the company time and time again in the past: Take a mediocre user experience, perfect it and market it well.

When it comes to Apple’s strategy, “there’s this idea of taking a current category and perfecting it, and then many of these competitors follow,” Patrick Moorhead, a tech industry analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.

The company did not invent MP3 players, but it did invent the iPod — one of the best-selling and perhaps the most iconic MP3 player on the market. It did not invent notebook computers, but its MacBooks (in their various versions) have been a hit.

Likewise, Apple didn’t invent wireless headphones. Wireless stereo headphones based on Bluetooth (the most commonly used connectivity method) have been around since 2004. In fact, it’s not even Apple’s first foray into this technology, with several of its Beats brand headphones using Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to devices.

But in much, if not all, of the promotional material surrounding its new wireless headphone offering, you won’t see Bluetooth mentioned. Instead, the tech giant is touting the W1 Chip — its first wireless chip, which is based on Bluetooth technology.

And there may be a good reason the name Bluetooth isn’t being thrown around.

“Consumers generally don’t like Bluetooth headphones, and are generally dissatisfied with Bluetooth in general,” Moorhead said. The process of pairing (initially connecting wireless devices) and switching the connection between devices is particularly frustrating.

With W1 (and devices that will employee it), Apple is taking advantage of the useful bits of Bluetooth connectivity to handle wireless transmission, and tacking on features that it says will be improvements on the frustrating bits of the Bluetooth experience — namely the initial pairing and hand-off to other devices.

“Up till now, no one has taken on the challenge to really deliver the audio experience wirelessly between your mobile device and your headphones,” Apple’s Phil Schiller said during Wednesday’s announcement.

And in a nod to some of these frustrations, he added: “Up till now no one has taken on the challenge of fixing the things that are difficult to do in those wireless experiences and made it easy so that we all want to enjoy them.”

If Apple and its W1 Chip is able to substantially improve the wireless headphone experience over the current Bluetooth offerings, then it may push others to step up their game as well.

“I think that if AirPods work as well as they demonstrated on stage and at the event,” said Moorhead, who tested the wireless earbuds after the event, “then I can see the industry shifting more toward a wireless world.”

“Maybe this is the motivation the Bluetooth community needs to improve the quality of the experience,” he added.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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