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It appears that Apple is continuing efforts to minimize iPhone components. Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports that the company may stop including EarPods with iPhone purchases starting with the iPhone 12. This move would mark the first time consumers would be forced to buy headphones separately.
Since its inception, Apple has included earbuds bundled with iPhones. Even when it improved its earphone technology with the EarPods in 2012, the company still provided them with new iPhones. When Apple nixed the 3.5mm headphone jack in 2017, many were angry with the change even though Apple still included Lightning-compatible EarPods and a 3.5mm-to-Lightning dongle up until the iPhone XS.
9-to-5Mac reports that Kou said Apple might be trying to boost sales for AirPods by running special promotions and possible discounted bundles, but had no specifics on the deals. There is also the possibility that the second-gen AirPods will see a price drop accompanying the iPhone 12 release to incentivize buyers to pick up a pair of the wireless buds.
Doing away with out-of-the-box headphones probably should not come as a surprise. Last December, Kou noted that Apple would be eliminating the Lightning port on "the highest-end" iPhones starting in 2021. Eliminating the bundled EarPods may be Apple's way of weaning customers off of a technology that it wants to phase out as it transitions to a completely wireless phone.
Regardless of its motivations, some will still be very unhappy with the move, just as they were when the 3.5mm jack disappeared. However, the storm eventually settled, and other than the outcry, Apple suffered little repercussions from its removal of the port. But honestly, most iPhone owners probably have multiple sets of Apple earphones lying around left over from their annual or biannual upgrades.
Image credit: Ekaterina_Minaeva