AirPods Max Announced – TMO Daily Observations 2020-12-08

Dave Hamilton and Bryan Chaffin join host Kelly Guimont to discuss Apple’s new AirPods Max specs, pricing, and comparison to other headphones.

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2 thoughts on “AirPods Max Announced – TMO Daily Observations 2020-12-08

  • This whole discussion just rubbed me wrong. I get that the new headphones are probably over priced. $550 set me sideways too but why double down on this discussion. Kelly suggested that the should cost between $200-$300? In what universe would Apple make a new top of the line product and sell it for less than it’s current offering?
    Beats Studio 3 have a list price of $350, So if these were no more special than that it might have come in at $350 but you know this was targeted at being superior to those so that puts the minimum price tag up over $400 if build materials and quality was the same but the sound was just well above normal. But Studio 3’s are plastic headphones! Nice plastic but plastic none the less and these are Aluminum and Stainless Steal! You know that pushes these closer to $500. Now the extra $50 is just pushing things but seeing as they are sold out for the next couple months…..sounds like they priced them just fine.
    Here is hoping for a reduction late next year to bring them back to earth for the rest, but there was no reason to make it seem like this price was all that much of a shock. Premium build will always take premium costs.

  • Hello guys:

    Great discussion. I didn’t have time to respond yesterday, and debated whether or not to address this here or at Andrew’s piece on Apple pricing, but thought to return to the original venue of inspiration.

    In short, in response to Bryan’s question, I actually do recall notable chatter throughout social media and specific websites (perhaps not TMO, I don’t recall offhand) about Airpods being overpriced upon announcement and being unfavourably compared to other offerings beginning at $99. These were often supplemented by comments about Apple’s earbuds that used to come with the iPhone, and how they seldom fit anyone’s ears, and if the Airpods fit similarly, who would want to spend that kind of money for something that would pop out, get lost, etc, etc, and all that before deriding the sound quality of the maligned little earbuds. I’m even old enough to remember the announcements of other Apple products, like the iPod (the Guy Kawasaki piece, I believe it was, that began with a ‘who would even want this, or even asked for it’ argument) accompanied by a chorus of unfavourable cost comparisons for competing devices, or the iPad (and the ‘oversized iPod Touch – whoever would want such a thing argument). Indeed, for old timers, there was even a similar reaction to the announcement of the Titanium PowerBook (ask your parents).

    All of these announcements followed a common pattern. First, there is the shock and awe, umbrage and outrage about the price, which is often succeeded by outright derision (remember Balmer laughing about the price of the original iPhone, and how if anyone in his company came to him with this pitch, he’d toss them out of his office? He sure showed Apple how to do it right with that Windows phone, didn’t he?). That’s the first stage. Then people get their hands on the device. And the reviews, professional and proletariat, gush with shock and awe, wonder and amazement; reviews so full-throatedly enthusiastic that Apple couldn’t have paid for better endorsement, and competitors sigh with envy. The third stage; the devices fly off the shelves; and outrage over prices morph into grumbling about supply shortages, shipping delays and how hard it is to find the devices from third party vendors.

    To be sure, there are notable exceptions, not least of which, as you pointed out in your discussion, the HomePod. If time permitted, I would argue that the issue with the HomePod was not price, but consumer expectations, which were misaligned with intended device niche, and that therefore this was not a case of Apple getting the price wrong, but the marketing writ large. Another time, perhaps.

    The point? Apple products are, indeed require, a sensory experience, not unlike a great work of art, a natural wonder, a live symphonic recital, or any other ‘never before’ encounter before its full aesthetic can begin to be appreciated. I submit that this is not confirmation bias (and not to pick on Dave, because the gist of his argument regarding music and acoustics is well documented; my point is about products). More often than not, public expectations of Apple’s debut products under-estimate and are surpassed by their execution, and the public’s experience with them. Across classes, cultures and nation states. Hence, the shock and awe, surprise and delight. Apple’s attention, not only to details whose whole is far greater than the sum of their parts, but to the mistakes and limitations of competing devices, creates a product that has to be experienced to be believed and appreciated. If Apple’s success was merely a fad fed by confirmation bias, not only would its appeal not be universally shared (cite contradicting experiences, if you know of any), as attested by relative resale value, but it would by now have long passed. Apple’s products, and their underlying aesthetic, design and functional philosophy feel far more like a symbiotic relationship with the zeitgeist of an emerging global culture. Hence, the sustained global growth into the world’s most valuable company by market cap. Consumers may be gullible, but not masochistic; and if expectations are not met, they will vote with their wallets. Apple are onto something sustainable.

    As for yours truly, I’ll keep my powder dry on the Airpods Max at least until the reviews come out. But I’ve saved some lunch money for just such a treat, and I’ve set my hammer right next to that piggy bank. In the meantime, I’ll content myself with my AirPods Pro.

    Duty calls. Big time.

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