Alluding to this as a mis-step is to ignore the positive feedback it’s also received. The wireless W1 chip with the AirPods makes pairing them far easier than previous wireless earbuds, the idea of having Siri built in is very innovative, sound quality is reportedly good and so is the fit in the ears. All that’s weird is the look.
I suspect that Apple’s right about the macro story here even if the micro factor – ie the form of the actual shipping product – leaves a little bit to be desired. The idea of wireless communication between products, not just between headphones and phones but a growing number of devices in our houses and lives, is clearly the right approach. So will we all be wearing AirPods which don’t come packaged with the phone one year from now? I’d say, based on the fact that most people tend to use the earbuds that come with their phone, and don’t go out and buy new headphones, no.
But I also think that if we dismiss these now as a gimmick then it would be like saying, “Why do teenagers wear these oversized Beats headphones? They look silly and they’ll never catch on.” Apple has made design mis-steps in the past – going back to 1998, the iMac shipped with the 'hockey-puck' mouse, which was a terrible design – but there were lots of designs that looked a little bit strange and then a few years down the line they’re refined and we wonder how things were ever different.
Dormehl is confident we will get used to seeing AirPods - eventually
I’d also suggest that Apple’s not in need of stunts to gain publicity. That implies it’s on the verge of failure, but if you look at anything – the stock price, the revenue, the number of revenue streams, the success of different product lines, the number of iPhones – all of this tells a very different story. Steve Jobs, in his second stint at Apple from 1997 to 2011, certainly after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, was quite consumed with the idea that he didn’t want this to be a company that had a visionary leader and suddenly crumbles when they are no longer there. That happened to Disney, a company Jobs was later the largest shareholder in, when Walt Disney died.
Apple hasn’t crumbled in the way that people like to think it might have done. It brings in four times the revenue it did in 2010, Jobs’ last full year at the company. People remember him as having back-to-back successes with products he was launching but a lot of these happened during the second half of his stint, the same stage that current CEO Tim Cook is at now.