Seeing Apple’s AirPods Max, the Beats earphones on my neck said I was hurt

Apple finally chose to fill the last gap in AirPods in the headset market: headphones.

Before that, iPhone users who wanted to buy headphones with AirPods pop-up connection and built-in noise reduction features could only look for Apple’s "sub-brand" Beats.

The release of AirPods Max broke this status quo. Even if its price is more than 4,000 yuan, but the prefix of "AirPods" has proved its pure pedigree , naturally there will be users who abandon Beats and switch to new headphones.

First, Bluetooth wireless, then speakers, then noise reduction, and now there is a headwear… With the expansion of Apple's music territory, it is not only the old manufacturers such as Sony and Senhai who feel the pressure, but also the Apple family. The Beats, because of the AirPods and HomePod series, are eating away the business that originally belonged to it.

However, people under the eaves, how not bow, six years ago Beats agreed to be acquired when Apple became a subsidiary of the latter, probably also expect that there would be such a day.

Beats assimilated by Apple

Beats is still an independently operated brand. Even if Apple acquired Beats six years ago, it still has its own official website. You can also buy all kinds of "b" in the Apple store, such as Powerbeats Pro, New products like Beats Solo Pro .

From the Beats point of view, being able to use Apple's huge resources and the latest technology to improve its products is undoubtedly the most significant change since it was bought by Apple.

This can be reflected from the product level. As of today, most of the wireless earphones and headsets on sale on the Beats official website have built-in the same W1 and H1 chips as AirPods.

With the support of "Apple Core", it means that Beats headsets can be connected to Apple devices in seconds like AirPods, and can wake up Siri by voice. For other third-party headsets, you have to go through the Bluetooth pairing in the settings. .

But in the process of introducing Apple chips, the sound quality of Beats headphones has also changed. My colleague, Ms. Liang Menglin, who brings her own golden ears, said that after Beats became a "sub-brand" of Apple, its sound quality has become much more neutral:

In the past, the high frequencies of Beats headphones will be more prominent, but they will also have a sense of burrs and jerky, which sounds rough; although the bass is strong, it will be dull and sound uncomfortable. However, starting from Beats X, Beats's sound style has become a lot more "conservative", the sound is balanced, and there is not such a heavy "beating times" taste, but more Apple's boiled water style.

It is an indisputable fact that Beats headphones are gradually being "Appleized". From a product perspective, using Apple's technology can indeed enable Beats to achieve a better experience on the iOS platform.

But from another point of view, Beats is still an independent brand with its own audience, rather than being fully integrated into Apple. Now it is gradually being polished away from the individualized edges and corners-talking about sound quality, even if many people complain about it. Point, but it will obviously have some impact on Beats' audience.

Compared with Beats' use of Apple's technology, Apple's "learning" from Beats headphones is not much. Whether it is the earliest AirPods wireless headphones or the latest AirPods Max headsets, in terms of form and design, you can rarely see the elements of Beats' past products, and there is not even a trace of Beats.

This is why, in the past many years, people have also questioned Apple's "why did it spend $3 billion to buy a street fashion brand". At least we can't intuitively see the embodiment of Beats' technology from AirPods.

Perhaps, Apple did ask the Beats team to assist in the development of AirPods and HomePod, but this is unproven. At the same time, from a personal point of view, in order to maintain design consistency with other products, Apple does hope that AirPods, a "natural" brand, conforms to Apple's tonality, rather than mixing the elements of Beats.

This does not mean that Beats has no assets of its own. Strictly speaking, if there were no Beats, many Apple music hardware and services we saw today would not appear.

Back then, what did Apple take a fancy to Beats

Looking back from today's perspective on this acquisition worth $3 billion six years ago, many doubts have been answered.

What exactly does Apple have a fancy for Beats?

A group of outstanding talents is naturally the most obvious. Back then, the two co-founders of Beats, Jimmy Iovin and Dr. Dre, joined Apple with the Beats company. Their other identity is that they have a strong presence in the pop and hip-hop music industry. High-impact producer.

This is also what Apple needs: some experts who really "understand content" and can deal with many record companies, and insights into the music industry.

In a 2014 GQ interview with Iowen, he also mentioned that after the death of Jobs and the rise of streaming music such as Spotify, he realized that there was a "hole" in Apple's music business: Apple had insufficient copyright and content. And he can just help Apple fill this gap.

At that time, Beats also brought Apple a much-needed platform: Beats Music. This is the streaming music service established by Beats before it was acquired by Apple. But compared to other competing products, Beats pays more attention to manual song selection, rather than pure algorithm-driven, which is also a major feature of Beats's music service platform.

However, in dealing with the streaming media platform, Apple's approach is not to continue to develop Beats Music, but to transfer Beats technology to Apple Music. We all know what happened later, and just a few months after Apple Music went online, Beats Music announced that it was offline.

Nowadays, there are not many Betas elements left on the Apple Music platform. Even the Beats 1 radio page, which has existed for a long time, also hung Apple’s small logo in August of this year, and changed its name to "Apple Music 1" .

From integration to complete integration, it can be said that every major company will appear after the acquisition.

However, talents and services are things that can be seen on the surface. From the development path of AirPods in recent years, it is not difficult to see that Beats has also brought Apple a truly valuable asset, which is to make it re-recognize headset products. The presence:

The headset is not only a functional device, but also a fashion accessory.

The stealth photos of various big-name celebrities wearing earphones are like free placement ads. Coupled with the highly recognizable shape of AirPods, they are constantly strengthening your and my impression of this product.

Looks familiar, isn't it? When Beats promoted its own headsets, it also liked to adopt such marketing techniques. This rebranding strategy may be a trick, but it did enhance Beats’ influence in the market. Now it has a strong impact on Apple’s products. This is especially true.

In their view, headphones represent not only a technological product, but also an interpretation of cool and trendy images, and even a kind of "jewelry."

It's just that, in the photos at that time, the earphones we saw were still hanging around the neck, but today, it is the two dazzling whites on the ears .

AirPods, an ally or a rival of Beats?

At the moment when AirPods sales are booming, the news that Beats will be abandoned by Apple has appeared more than once. At the same time, judging from the signs that Apple is accelerating the completion of the audio product line, Beats' position within Apple is indeed not as prominent as it was at the beginning.

A very realistic situation is: in the future, if AirPods and HomePod products are developed like iPhone and iPad, relying on high, middle and low positioning, occupying more and more price segments, then in the same gear, will they still be Will there be room for Beats?

A typical example is Beats' wireless speaker Pill+. This is a product launched in 2015 after Beats was acquired by Apple. However, since then, Beats has not launched any new wireless speaker products, replaced by Apple's HomePod and HomePod mini. We saw their appearance in 2017 and 2020 respectively.

As a result, other Beats products disappear, it seems that it is also a matter of time. At a certain stage, Beats should be able to foresee such a result.

However, professional audio player Teacher Liang still has different views. In his opinion, although everyone is making headphones and their product categories overlap, the Beat and AirPods products are still different in terms of qualitative and positioning.

One is price. At present, the price of Beats headphones is mainly around 2000-3000 yuan, which is essentially different from AirPods Max, which is 4000 yuan. I now feel that Beats is like a more local and popular brand under Apple, while the AirPods series is constantly developing towards a high-end and professional route.

As for AirPods and Beats under 2000 yuan, the difference between them is more differentiated by different designs and functionality.

AirPods and AirPods Pro are mainly for daily commuting, while Powerbeats Pro, like the addition of ear hooks and enhanced wearing stability, is for sports scenes. Although the prices of the two are very close, they still have designs and functions. Different user groups have different product attributes.

Considering the over one billion users of Apple's "i" prefix devices, this distinction in positioning can indeed allow AirPods and Beats to coexist harmoniously when sharing a large user base .

But Apple's "regular" products gradually mature today, Apple also can leave much for the Beats the margin, as well as space for independent living, which will be placed in front of the parent company and a subsidiary of serious problems.

Source of title picture: TechRadar

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