The modern megalith that is Apple is truly a modern marvel of globalized capitalism. With hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away in Ireland, with products that create entire sub-economies, as Apple goes, so does mobile tech some say. Androids based companies are doing their best to retain and grab market share, but Apple has been incredibly dominant over the last decade.
If you doubt the market size and strength then you only have to look as far as Lightning connectors and Lightning headphones (which are a new booming industry according to Lightning Cans, an tech blog that follows audio-technical industry developments).
There are numerous indicators pointing to this being on of the most monumental shifts within the industry the public has seen since the advent of the smartphone case, which is perhaps the only industry larger than the potential Lightning-connected headphone space.
Will Audio Components Outpace Cases & Protectors?
When the first iPhone was released it was a technologically revolutionary device. Apple didn’t immediately provide a case as a fashion accessory but just as a functionary device. It was later on when third party manufacturers who achieved MFi status came and released a plethora of fashionable cases to suit all different personality types.
Just as there is a different case for every type of iPhone user there will be a headset (lightning-tipped-cable) for every type of music listener. Athletic and spend most of your time jogging? There will be Lightning earbuds that are sweat-proof, which actually already exist in the form of the JBL Reflect Aware.
Do you prefer consuming your audio in your living room? There will be a wide selection of super high end audiophile headsets to choose from. Again though, there are already manufacturers operating in this space like Audeze with their EL-8 and Sine models, both of which use audiophile planar magnetic technology powered by Lightning cables.
Given the average cost for a phone case averaging $10-$20, and the average cost of high end headphones averaging $100-$200, even though the total sales volume of Lightning powered headphones will most likely be lower than actual phone cases, the overall appraisal of the total industry will likely exceed that of cases, probably by millions, if not billions of dollars annually.
Beyond Just Headphones, Lightning Tech Potential
The Lightning connector transmits audio, data and power. This opens up whole new worlds of possibilities for what are now being labelled “smart” headsets. This could include the incorporation of gyroscopes, accelerometers, altimeters, to make everything from scuba goggles and ski googles capable of monitoring pretty much everything smart watches and smart phones do, but with the potential for heads-up display technology.
Headphones will go “smart” because they now have a new “smart” connector. This will blossom into dozens of particular niche industries beyond just listening to music. The total dollar value of this move created by just one company like Apple will likely be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. This is truly a huge shift in personal mobile device markets and consumer electronics that will be the trend to focus on through the end of 2016 and into 2017 and beyond.