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Apple reportedly wants ‘AirPods’ trademark using shell company, suggesting Apple-branded wireless earbuds

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Even in the age of the Apple Watch which only plays music over Bluetooth, Apple has yet to produce any Apple-branded wireless headphones or earbuds, instead promoting Beats-branded earbud and headphone designs created before Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of that company last year. A new report from MacRumors suggests that could soon change, however, as it’s believed Apple may have applied for “AirPods” trademark under an alias company name.

If the trademark application indeed traces back to Apple, AirPods suggest a wireless version of the Apple-branded EarPod earbuds introduced in 2012. Apple’s current in-house solution for wireless earbuds, Beats Powerbeats 2, carry a premium $199 price and have an aggressive sport look, leaving room for a more neutral Apple-designed product in the future.

MacRumors believes that the company listed on the AirPods trademark application, Entertainment in Flight LLC, is an Apple shell company due to its lack of any other activity, use of a Gmail address for contact information, and a priority date request for trademarking in Jamaica where online records aren’t available, activity which it says is typical of Apple when using shell companies to hide upcoming products.

The possible AirPod wireless earbuds adds to the list of potential upcoming but unannounced products including an updated Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 using Bluetooth LE 4.2 as we reported earlier this year. Although those products had an early 2016 date attached to them, FCC documents suggest they may be further along than possible wireless earbuds from Apple.

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  1. mpriestly - 8 years ago

    Bluetooth EarPods introduced next year with a 3.5mm audio jack-less iPhone 7?

  2. o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

    How about losing the headphone jack, and replacing it with these, and also dropping the lightning port in favor of the new Smart Connector (assuming it can charge and exchange data quickly enough) on the iPhone 7. Both ports take up a large amount of space in the device, and are both hinderances to water resistance, a rumored improved feature in the iPhone 7. I discount the removal of these to make the devices even thinner, if they removed them, it would much more be about reducing the incredibly valuable internal space of the devices. If they want to reduce the bezel to minimum, internal space is vitally important, but on the other hand they could retain the physical size, and reduce bezels to minimum by going in the other direction, and increasing the screen sizes further.

    The AirPods could have a Smart Connector on the middle control module, which could magnetically snap to your iPhone 7’s Smart Connector, for charging of the AirPods when away from a power source. Alternatively, if the lightning connector is kept (which is likely), the AirPods could have a charging cable that has a lightning port to plug into the iPhone, (or included power adaptor) on one end, and the other end would be a magnetically attractive Smart Connector, which the AirPods module would connect to, to charge.

    If the iPhone removed the headphone jack, lightning connector, SIM card, and Home Button, it would be naturally far better water resistance.

    • PMZanetti - 8 years ago

      You had me at lose the headphone jack. You lost me at drop the lightning port.

      We’ll reconvene on that in 2022, which is how long Apple has promised the Lightning connector to remain in service.

      • o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

        Show me where they said it will be around until 2022. Hahah, are you nuts? There’s not even a remote possibility that port will be there until 2022. You realize there were only 5 iPhones with the 30pin? Now there have been 4 with lightning, it’s actually very believable they’d switch again for the iPhone 7.

      • Well, actually, the 30-pin connector had been on the iPod since 2001… So it lived for 11 years.

      • o0smoothies0o - 8 years ago

        @Le Super Flux Actually since 2003 it was used, but that was long before the crazy speed of innovation that is required for modern day smartphones. You can’t stick with technologies that could hinder miniaturization, etc., for too long, today. I just watched the lightning portion of the 2012 iPhone 5 keynote, and while Schiller did say ‘it’s a modern connector for the next decade’, that really doesn’t mean much, as they can’t know a decade out what they are going to do. It’s very possible they find a better solution before even 5 years. If you want to keep innovating and miniaturizing, you can’t stop due to the convience of keeping a connector the same.

      • PMZanetti - 7 years ago

        The day it was introduced, it was stated to be the connector for the next years. That’s a quote. Not even a remote possibility? There is not even a remote possibility that you have any idea what you’re talking about. You haven’t even seen/used the smart connector yet and you call for it to replace Lightning. Can’t you take seriously. Not even a little.

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        You read the part in parenthesis? And no, there is no chance it will stay until 2022. That is absolutely absurd. And mind you, they don’t know what they’ll come up with in 5 years, let alone 10 years, it’s called the future, they can’t predict it.

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        I might also add, that, of course Schiller, the senior Vice President of worldwide marketing will introduce a new port that some will be angry about, by saying it will be around for a long time (so people don’t cry about accessories).

    • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

      Besides Apple.s patents it’s strange how little has been said of the smart connector. I would rather Apple adapt USB c headsets and ditch lightning. Lightning on the MFI program as really limited manufacturers from making products. The security elements in lightning and HomeKit has really dragged out fast rollout of devices. Back in the heyday of iPods devices quickly hit the market after school iPod release. AirPlay has never cut on much and now manufacturers are releasing lower quality Bluetooth speakers.

      USB c would give high quality digital audio and still get rid of the ancient headphone port. 3.5 jack is 19th century product after all.

  3. Greg Kaplan (@kaplag) - 8 years ago

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES! BLE 4.2, YO – Gonna make shit happen.

  4. jedimindtrick99 - 8 years ago

    Mark G already predicted the iPhone 7 will have no buttons and no headphone jack and to come with beats powered wireless earbuds , so the prediction from one of the greatest Apple Intel analyst has already been foretold.

  5. rettun1 - 8 years ago

    This makes it pretty hard to interpret the future of apple headphone/beats products.

    The rumor suggests itll be apple branded (unless they go with ‘Beats AirPods’) So then Apple will be selling their headphones alongside the Beats lineup.

    But how long before apple wants to design ‘premium’ over-ear headphones, or something similar? then they’d be selling similar products side by side under different brands, which sounds like waste of resources in my opinion. I just cant figure out if the Beats brand is going to stick around or not. But I do welcome more products being Introduced by apple

    • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

      Car companies have sold the same vehicle with slightly different design under different badge names forever. I always thought it strange to hav a GMC, Buick, Chevy and Cadillac model of the same vehicle.

      So I’m sure Apple and Beats both can release branded headphones.

      • rahhbriley - 8 years ago

        Ya….and I’m kind of with you… Obviously Apple does things with their branding cleaner and different than most.

        We haven’t seen the Apple logo displayed along with others’ logos except for very few exceptions. (RED), Nike, IBM, Cisco are the only ones in the modern era I can think of (and obviously this is happening more). Maybe there has been something last millennium that I’m unaware of. Beats 1, I believe, was the first Beats product Apple released under the Apple banne. But it’s a sub-service of aMusic, so it fits similar patterns.

        So we have sub-Apple brands/products/services already under the Apple brand with their own logos/icons; iTunes, iCloud, Beats 1, etc. I really don’t see a reason they can’t call the headphone line Beats (like the computers are called Macintosh). However, I wouldn’t expect them to keep the Beats “B” logo on the heaphones, I think they would replace it with an Apple. This would be pending Apple having their way with the engineering and design. I might expect them to keep the “beats” typeface on them.

        My conclusion? Sell Beats in their current form…until Apple can phase them out with a new product line of Apple Beats. However, coming back to your example, I highly doubt they desire to actively develop and sell the equivalent of a Lexus’ and a Toyota. Once they design and like the new Lexus they build (Apple Beats headphones), no more Toyotas (current Beats heaphones).

      • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

        You forgot HP iPods.))
        I was using the car market as an example of how it works for other companies. I agree that the Beats name will eventually be phased out. Didn’t take Apple long for Apple to kill the a eats streaming service.

        I hope Apple develops its own Sonos like speakers tied into HomeKit and Apple TV. Apple has forgot about sound systems , docks and speakers. Apple used to peddle speakers to go with your Mac. Now they just promote everyones headphones.

  6. Rahul Rana (@iRahulRana) - 8 years ago

    EarPods Air seems more fit.

  7. benjitek - 7 years ago

    My guess… Bluetooth earbuds with a ‘always-listening’ microphone that longs to hear the phrase ‘Hey-Siri’… ;-)

  8. Pepe Fraccini - 7 years ago

    Well Apple changed the Earbuds in the iPhone 5 from that the we had 5 models of the first earbuds than Apple changed to the EarPods and so far we already have 5 models of the EarPods… I guess next year Apple could change the design and sound system for the upcoming iPhone 7.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.