Apple may stop bundling free earphones with new iPhones by the time its next iPhone models launch this fall, a major change considering that the company has been shipping its free wired earphones, called the EarPods, ever since the original iPhone launched back in 2007.

The EarPods are also sold separately by Apple, priced at $29 and available in two flavors: a Lightning version and a variant with the standard 3.55mm headphone jack.

As a result of this alleged move, would-be iPhone 12 buyers who don’t already own a pair of wireless earbuds will need to factor in the added cost of separately purchasing AirPods or similar Bluetooth earphones (or a set of wired MFi-certified, Lightning-based earphones).

Apple is selling EarPods for $29 a pair

That’s according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who in a research note issued to investors today and seen by MacRumors speculated that the Cupertino tech giant might not include the $29 EarPods earphones in the iPhone 12 box.

The revered Apple analyst didn’t explain why Apple would take that action, but my thinking is that leaving out the traditional wired earphones bundled with iPhones may prompt would-be iPhone 12 buyers to choose one of the company’s AirPods-branded earphone models.

This isn’t the only move that could boost demand for ‌AirPods‌ shipments this year as Kuo has been hearing whispers of an AirPods promotion of some sort coinciding with the next iPhone.

None of this is just a coincidence.

The Mac maker in 2016 dropped the 3.55mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7. It has since never returned to any new iPhone model and Apple in December of 2016 began selling the original AirPods which have become a smash hit and quite a cultural phenomenon, not unlike the company’s iPod music player with its trademark white earphones.

Kuo is expecting a drop in AirPods shipments due to the current economic climate and health conditions around the world, with shipments in the June quarter declining by 29 percent from the previous quarter to 17.2 million units across all models.

TUTORIAL: Tips for using your EarPods like a pro

He predicts that AirPods shipments would be on the rise again come this fall due to unspecified promotions and continuing strong demand for the AirPods Pro. Kuo now thinks annual AirPods shipments will grow from his original estimate of 80-90 million units to 93.8 million units across the entire range of AirPods models.

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Kuo previously speculated the third-generation AirPods would enter mass production during the first half of 2021, although the very reliable leaker Jon Prosser called for the third-generation ‌‌AirPods model to launch sometime in 2020.

What’s your opinion on Appel potentially leaving out the $29 EarPods that come with iPhones?

Let us know in the comments down below.

Photo: contents of the iPhone 11 box