Apple Delays AirPods Rollout, Saying 'We Need a Little More Time'

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Apple announced that its anticipated AirPods, a pair of wireless headphones, will no longer ship this month as planned. The AirPods were introduced in September alongside the iPhone 7, which was designed without a standard headphone jack.

An Apple iPhone 7 with AirPods.
An Apple iPhone 7 with AirPods. Credit: Apple

"We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready, and we need a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers," Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, said Wednesday. Apple didn't provide a technical reason for the delay nor a new shipping date.

The delay comes on the eve of Apple's scheduled Thursday event for its updated Mac computer line, when the AirPods' availability also was expected to be announced.

The AirPods delay is the first hardware-related postponement in more than five years from the company. A version of the iPhone 4 in the color white was announced in June 2010, but didn't ship to customers until April 2011 because of a production problem. On the software side, Apple delayed the release of iTunes 11 in 2012 by a month to fix bugs.

Reviews of pre-production models of the AirPods suggested the device needed fine-tuning. "During my testing one of the AirPods had trouble holding a charge, so Apple swapped it out," Walt Mossberg, of the technology website The Verge, wrote in September. Other reviewers noticed problems with music playback, a key feature of the AirPods.

The introduction of the product spurred criticism that the cordless earphones could easily be lost. Comedian Conan O'Brien mocked the device with a spoof of an iPod ad that showed people dancing and the AirPods flying out their ears into a sewage drain.

The device is planned as part of a growing number of accessories that work around Apple's most important product, the iPhone.

Chief Design Officer Jony Ive last month referred to the AirPods as the start of a new wireless future for the company. The $159 accessory comes with a charging case that doubles as a mechanism to initially pair the headphones to the iPhone. With iCloud, the AirPods can automatically be matched with other Apple devices like computers and watches.

-- Bloomberg News