Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is at it again with another ominous note (via MacRumors) on the iPhone 12: it won't come with wired EarPods included in the box. We can already feel the palpable anger bubbling up inside of you as you read these words, shaking your head in disbelief and crossing your fingers in hopes it's not true.
But this is news coming from Kuo, an analyst who rarely misses when he spreads his gospel, so there's a good chance the information is right and Apple is summoning up its infamous courage once again. Every version of the iPhone has shipped with wired earbuds in the box and removing them would make the iPhone 12 less accessible. Imagine ponying up the big bucks for a shiny new iPhone 12 and not being able to listen to music in private unless you shell out separately for wired or wireless earbuds.
Get AirPods or go home — The decision is kind of obvious: the future of audio is wireless and AirPods are selling like gangbusters. People can't get enough of Apple's wireless earbuds — it's estimated Apple sold over 60 million AirPods in 2019. AirPods, which Apple lumps in together into "Wearables, Home, and Accessories" no doubt helped the category's revenue grow 23 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of this year; $6.3 billion in quarterly revenue compared to $5.13 billion in Q2 2019.
Why bundle in wired earbuds when it's plain as day that people are willing to spend at least $159 for regular AirPods and $249 for AirPods Pro even when there are cheaper and longer-lasting alternatives like Samsung's excellent Galaxy Buds+?
From Tim Cook's cushy home office, it's a no-brainer to stop bundling EarPods and save on cost. Not to mention, many other flagship Android phones like the Pixel 4 don't come with included earbuds, either. So there's clearly a trend going on. But Pixels don't sell in the same numbers as iPhones. Not even close.
Android nerds may have thrown up their arms at the offense last fall, but there will rioting when Apple does it because it sells hundreds of millions of iPhones every year. Every change is scrutinized and amplified just like the death of the headphone jack was on the iPhone 7 in 2016. Motorola had beaten Apple to killing the 3.5mm jack on its Moto Z months before the iPhone 7 launched, but nobody remembers that. The iPhone ecosystem is so massive that any deviation rocks the world like a deadly earthquake.
The iPhone ecosystem is so massive that any deviation rocks the world like a deadly earthquake.
It makes even more sense to charge people for wireless earbuds and headphones when Apple is planning to release more AirPods: third-gen "AirPods Lite" that look like the AirPods Pro but don't have active noise-cancellation and over-ear "AirPods Studio" headphones.
The only real way to stem push back on the backlash would be for Apple to include AirPods with the iPhone 12, which has been rumored before, but no concrete info has surfaced indicating the company will go forward with it.
March to a portless iPhone — Apple dropping EarPods will be its largest shift towards wireless. Wireless earbuds have so far been a choice, but in the future, it'll be the default. And for good reason: a portless iPhone. Leaker Jon Prosser, who's definitely on Apple's hit list, for sharing secrets on the company's Apple Glass AR glasses, recently claimed at least one portless iPhone is coming in 2021. Removing wired earbuds from the box this year would ease the pain for everyone next year. There'd be less shock and less confusion. It'd make no sense for Apple to ship a portless iPhone with wired Lightning earbuds, anyway.
There will be blood — Apple transitions will always be met with angry customers. Barring any fundamental design flaws (*cough* butterfly keyboard *cough*), the initial anger and resistance usually turns to acceptance pretty quickly. Even so, the move will stir up a reaction from everyone. The same people who refused to give up their Touch ID-enabled iPhones for iPhones with Face ID will come out in full force to protest Apple's scrimping.