The AirPods were supposed to launch in late October, but for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, we still haven’t heard a peep from Apple as to when the company’s new wireless headphones might hit stores shelves. Aside from a vaguely worded statement indicating that the company needed more time before Airpods were ready for customers, Apple has largely left prospective buyers in the dark.
About a month ago, analysts from Barclays Research issued a research note claiming that AirPods won’t actually begin shipping until early January 2017. Over the weekend, however, the always well-connected John Gruber said on his The Talk Show podcast that AirPods might actually hit stores shelves over the next few days.
Notably, Gruber qualifies his prediction by stating that his source on this isn’t as well-placed as his more traditional sources. Still, given Gruber’s relationships with many people in and close to Apple, his remarks are worth sharing.
“They are getting very close to missing the holidays,” Gruber said. “I have heard, just in the last 24 hours, I have heard not from a very well placed little birdie, but from a birdie, that there is a possibility that, that there are whispers among people who work in Apple Retail that they might actually come in ‘the next few days.'”
All things being equal, it’s probably wise to take Gruber’s prediction with a grain of salt, especially in light of a recent Wall Street Journal report which detailed some of the technical hurdles currently preventing Apple’s AirPods from seeing the light of day.
A person familiar with the development of the AirPod said the trouble appears to stem from Apple’s effort to chart a new path for wireless headphones. In most other wireless headphones, only one earpiece receives a signal from the phone via wireless Bluetooth technology; it then transmits the signal to the other earpiece.
Apple has said AirPod earpieces each receive independent signals from an iPhone, Mac or other Apple device. But Apple must ensure that both earpieces receive audio at the same time to avoid distortion, the person familiar with their development said. That person said Apple also must resolve what happens when a user loses one of the earpieces or the battery dies.
The Journal typically has solid sources close to Apple, so unless Apple managed to address the aforementioned problems quickly, it’s probably a safe bet that we won’t see AirPods for at least another few weeks.