We’ve been hearing rumours for two years now that Apple is planning to release its own Apple-branded over-ear headphones, but the reports have been sporadic and it’s been difficult to get a good idea of what the company’s plans are, especially since it already sells a variety of on-ear and over-ear headphones as part of its Beats brand, so it’s unclear what Apple could bring to the table with its own set of headphones.
However, the reports have come from reputable sources—analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman—so we’ve been taking them more seriously than a lot of what we hear, and despite the first report appearing back in early 2018, it’s fair to say that Apple may just be taking its time to do something particularly different here, and not just crank out an Apple-branded version of Beats.
After Kuo’s original analysts was backed up by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, both sources pegged a late 2018 or early 2019 launch, so when last year came and went with nary a word about new headphones, most people kind of forgot about the earlier rumours, and some even suggested that they had been conflated with Apple’s Beats Solo Pro headphones that launched last fall—the first on-ears to feature Apple’s new H1 chip.
In reality, it seems like Apple has been running into some problems, not the least of which has been trying to figure out exactly what it wants to do with its own Apple-branded headphones, and by all reports the project hasn’t been nearly as focused as many of Apple’s other initiatives, however we’ve heard more reports recently suggesting that they could arrive as soon as next month, and might even be debuted at an Apple event to be held at the end of March.
Appearing in Target’s Inventory
Now it seems that there’s another indication that Apple’s headphones could be right around the corner; employees at Target noticed a placeholder product in the company’s database for “Apple AirPods (X Generation)” with a price tag of $399. Several of them reached out to YouTuber John Prosser with this information, who shared it on Twitter.
The listing doesn’t provide any specific details, but while the name “AirPods” suggests that they could just be another set of Apple’s popular wireless earbuds, the $399 price tag and very recent release of AirPods Pro makes this very unlikely.
According to Prosser’s sources, there are three different SKUs listed for this mystery product, which most likely refer to multiple colour options. This lends more weight to the idea that these are not actually AirPods, since Apple has generally refused to depart from its iconic white design, presumably to build on the brand recognition that it has long enjoyed since the days of its iPod marketing campaigns. A full set of headphones wouldn’t be tied to this same legacy.
Further, AppleInsider, which spoke with several Target employees, said that placeholders like this are fairly common in the retailer’s inventory system, and are generally a result of manufacturers providing them with information prior to a product’s release so that they can get their systems ready when the items actually do go on sale. However, while the pricing information is usually accurate, the product names are often not, so“AirPods (X Generation)” is likely not going to be the actual product name.
However, sources told AppleInsider that once a placeholder like this appears in Target’s system, the actually products usually ship within a month.
There have also been rumours of “AirPods Pro Lite” earbuds coming soon, but it seems extremely unlikely that this new item in Target’s database would refer to these, since the a “Lite” version would be expected to be less expensive than the current AirPods Pro, not $150 more.