Do Apple’s Premium AirPods Need Fixing? I Have Some Ideas

The year is 2024 and Apple is announcing the discontinuation of its AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones. The sentiment around the news is a mix of disappointment and disinterest. On one hand, the critics and consumers all agreed these were wonderful sounding headphones. The ANC and transparency modes were each best in class. The build quality was pristine. People who bought the headphones are extremely disappointed that their products will fade into extinction with no replacements on the horizon. On the other hand, nearly everyone who wanted to buy AirPods Max couldn’t afford them, and thus, a quick malaise of indifference fell over the niche product’s demise.

This future is easy to predict because it’s is a close reality of what has already happened to the HomePod, Apple’s home Wi-Fi speaker. The HomePod was remarkable when it was first released: It had a compact size, yet songs still boomed with deep richness. Five years after its debut, in June 2017, the HomePod still provides a competitive edge over other home Wi-Fi speakers in size and sound.

The HomePod’s problem largely revolved around its longtime price of $349 when other speakers with voice assistants were noticeably less expensive. The similarities between the HomePod and the AirPods Max are obvious. So before a day in the future can come when Apple discontinues its wireless ANC headphones, here’s how I would handle the AirPods Max and surrounding products to give them the best chance at survival.

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