Microsoft Surface Headphones Microsoft

  • Microsoft released a set of high-end wireless headphones at the end of 2018.
  • Now, both Apple and Sonos are reportedly also making premium over-ear headphones.
  • Why don’t high-end headphones made by Google exist?


In October last year, we found out that Microsoft had secretly developed a set of high-end over-the-ear headphones which eventually hit the market as Microsoft Surface Headphones. The noise-canceling cans are intended to directly compete with the industry-standards of the Bose QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3.

Today, we’ve heard two new rumors regarding high-end headphones from major tech companies. The first is not-so-surprising, which is that premium speaker manufacturer Sonos is planning to release a set of headphones that will also likely compete with Bose’s and Sony’s flagships. Those could launch sometime in 2020.

Second, we heard a more surprising rumor, which is that Apple might be dipping its hat into the premium headphone market by releasing a pair of Apple-branded cans. This is surprising because Apple paid $3 billion for Beats in 2014 and has sold that brand’s products in its own stores and elsewhere ever since. In essence, a set of Apple headphones would place the company in competition with itself.

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Microsoft entered the ring last year, and now Sonos and Apple are likely getting into the premium headphones game, too. Meanwhile, general electronics companies like TCL are branching out into the budget and mid-tier market.

This all begets the question: where’s Google?

Granted, there are already two sets of Google headphones: the Google Pixel Buds and the Google Pixel USB-C earbuds. However, neither of these products would be considered high-end and neither have the premium aura that only over-ear, noise-canceling, totally wireless headphones can give. It also should be said that the Google Pixel Buds, in particular, didn’t get the greatest reviews.

The headphone market is crowded, yes, but that doesn't seem to be stopping Apple. So why would it stop Google?

Google might not see any reason to get into the already-crowded premium headphone market, but this news from Apple and Sonos might force its hand, so to speak. After all, Apple’s iPhone revenue isn’t where the company would want it to be, so it needs new products to bring in new cash. If Apple makes a big push with a set of headphones that carry the Apple name, Google might have no choice but to respond if only to keep parity with the world’s most successful company.

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When you think about it, though, a set of premium Google headphones would likely do very well, especially if Google baked-in Google Assistant. And I’m not talking about having fast-access to Assistant on your phone through the headphones — I’m talking about Google Assistant working with the headphones even if your phone isn’t connected. Over-ear headphones would likely be big enough that Google could feasibly put enough hardware inside to make them kind of like a smart speaker you wear on your head.

That’s just an idea, but it does show that just because the premium headphone market is crowded doesn’t mean Google couldn’t offer something truly enticing.

What do you think? Would you buy a pair of Google-branded over-ear ‘phones if they were similarly priced to something like the Bose QC35? Let us know in the comments.

NEXT: USB-C audio is dead

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