Apple has suddenly stopped selling headphones and speakers from its rivals as it preps new headphones and HomePod releases. For Apple-centric blogs and its other fans, this is great news: Apple’s about to release new products! But critics will claim this is yet another example of Apple’s anti-competitive behavior.
News of Apple’s defenestration of rival audio products was first brought to light by Bloomberg, which notes that the firm’s store is “one of the largest e-commerce operations in the world” and has “long sold third-party hardware on its website.”
Well, not anymore: No Bose headphones and speakers, Logitech Ultimate Ears speakers, or Sonos smart speakers are available now at Apple’s online store. And the publication notes that employees at Apple’s physical retail locations were also instructed to remove the products from shelves.
Why the change? Well, Apple is known to be readying new over-the-ear, Apple-branded headphones and a smaller new HomePod model. So the theory is that these devices must be ready for sale, as Apple has performed similar inventory-clearing ahead of the release of its own products in the past. For example, Apple stopped selling Fitbit wearables just ahead of the Apple Watch introduction in 2014.
Anyway, if you want headphones or speakers from Apple, you can only choose Apple’s own products, which include AirPods and HomePod as well as some Beats-branded devices as well. And that, folks, is the problem with Apple’s lock-in strategy. It’s literally designed to prevent its customers from choosing non-Apple products and services.