More Evidence Emerges to Suggest 2018 iPhones Won’t Be Bundled With Lightning to Headphone Jack Adapter

It has been nearly two years since Apple released the iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, forcing users who still use wired headphones to plug them into the Lightning connector using an adapter included in the box.

Apple also includes the adapter in the box with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, but more evidence has emerged today that suggests that trend will soon end.

Cirrus Logic, a supplier for the adapter, has apparently "confirmed" that the dongle won't be bundled with Apple's widely rumored trio of new iPhones expected next month, according to a Barclays research note.

Barclays already anticipated this would be the case earlier this year.

"Reported a beat but gave mixed guidance with revenue below but earnings ahead. Cirrus didn't update its FY19 guide… but they did finally confirm the dongle loss, adding more support for our below estimates," the research note reads.

Apple routinely says it is pushing towards a "truly wireless future," and the headphone jack adapter has always been a stopgap amid that transition, so if Apple chooses not to include it in the box, it shouldn't really come as a surprise. Rumors suggest new iPads will also lose the headphone jack and adapter.

Not everyone prefers wireless headphones, like AirPods, however, so if true, the removal of the adapter will almost certainly generate some controversy.

Apple will likely continue to sell the adapter as a standalone accessory for $9, which is cheap by its standards, so customers at least won't be forced to pay too much extra for the adapter if it is indeed removed from the box this year.

The adapter is also available at resellers such as Best Buy, where nearly two years later, it is the retailer's second-best selling Apple product in terms of units, so an argument could be made that Apple is removing the adapter too soon.

In a little over a month, we should find out for sure.


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Apple’s Headphone Jack Adapter Remains a Top Seller at Best Buy

Back in September 2016, controversy erupted when Apple released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus without a headphone jack. Now, users must plug wired headphones into the Lightning connector using an adapter, included in the box with each device, and sold separately for $9 in the United States.


The adapter is also available at resellers such as Best Buy, where nearly two years later, it remains a top seller. In fact, the adapter is Best Buy's second-best selling Apple product in terms of unit sales, behind only AirPods, according to Joshua Fruhlinger, publisher of data-driven site Thinknum:
The above chart shows the Lightning-to-3.5mm Headphone Adapter's sales rank at Best Buy for the past couple years. A lower sales rank, of course, is better. As you can see, the adapter has been a top-25 seller for the better part of the past year.

Apple is likely not making a ton off of the little dongles, but the fact remains that it's the company's second-best-selling product at America's number-one electronics retailer, ahead of its EarPods and Apple Watch.
MacRumors reached out to Fruhlinger to verify the data, obtained using Best Buy's developer APIs, and we did see that the headphone jack adapter has consistently ranked as the best selling Apple product behind AirPods, with a few days here and there as exceptions, for well over a year.


In fact, since the adapter was released a few years ago, its sales ranking among all products sold by Best Buy has generally increased:
  • Dec 15, 2016: 261st
  • Mar 15, 2017: 77th
  • Jun 15, 2017: 33rd
  • Sep 15, 2017: 30th
  • Dec 15, 2017: 53rd
  • Mar 15, 2018: 18th
  • Jun 15, 2018: 19th
The data is particularly interesting given that Apple already includes its headphone jack adapter in the box with its latest iPhones, so every customer that needs one should already have one. So, what is driving all of the sales?

Fruhlinger offered up a pretty reasonable explanation: people keep losing the adapter, thereby having to buy a new one:
I almost died of laughter at the gym last year. I was plodding away on a treadmill listening to Bill Burr complain about his new iPhone. To be more precise, he was ranting about his new iPhone's lack of a headphone jack and how he kept losing those Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapters…

The story cut too close to home. As a wired headphone holdout (I refuse to charge my headphones, and I love my Klipsches), I've gone through several headphones adapters myself.
While the data suggests wired headphones remain popular, it's also worth remembering that AirPods are the one Apple product outselling the adapter at Best Buy, so many customers are also embracing wireless.

Apple has said it is pushing towards a "truly wireless future," as evidenced by the removal of the headphone jack, and its other products and technologies, ranging from AirPods and AirPower to its W1 and W2 wireless chips. The headphone jack adapter has always been a stopgap amid that transition.

In fact, earlier this year, analysts at Barclays predicted that Apple won't include the adapter in the box with the trio of iPhones rumored to launch this September. Even if that turns out to be false, the adapter certainly won't be around forever. But, for now, it clearly remains quite popular.


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Barclays Predicts 2018 iPhones Won’t Come Bundled With Lightning to Headphone Jack Adapter

Apple's widely rumored trio of new iPhone models expected to launch in September might not include a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter in the box, according to Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis and his associates.


"We currently model no dongle this year," the analysts predicted, in a research note obtained by MacRumors today.

Cirrus Logic would be the primary loser within Apple's supply chain, as a supplier of audio-related components inside of the adapter. Barclays has lowered its quarterly and yearly revenue guidance for the company by up to five percent, for the time being, but that could change if they hear otherwise.

At this point, it appears that the Barclays analysts are merely guessing that the adapter will no longer be bundled, as in previous research notes, they have mentioned it may take until May or June to find out for certain.

Barclays does have some credibility in this area, as last year, the investment bank accurately predicted that Apple would continue to include the adapter in the box alongside the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. The analysts routinely visit with Apple's supply chain partners in Asia to gather information like this.

"We believe it stays this year but goes away at some point, potentially in the 2018 model," the analysts said back in April 2017.

Apple eliminating the headphone jack starting with the iPhone 7 was a controversial decision, but the adapter has at least helped ease the transition. Its inclusion has always felt temporary, and as AirPods and other wireless headphone become more widespread, Apple may no longer feel the need to bundle the dongle.

Apple still sells the Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter for $9 as a standalone accessory, which is cheap by its standards, so customers that prefer to use wired headphones won't be forced to pay too much extra whether the adapter is removed from the iPhone box this year or at a later time.



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