Apple & Beats May Monopolize Headphone Industry Together, Cue Evil Laugh

Last week, Apple officially purchased Beats by Dre for $3.2 billion, and now it all makes sesne. According to tech blog 9to5Mac, your headphones may soon plug into Apple iOS devices through its Lightening connector, rather than the usual 3.5mm jack — in other words, third-party headphones for Apple devices are out, and Beats headphones could be the only ones compatible with your iPhone. Basically, we'll all have Apple in our ears — and minds — pretty soon.

Although Apple hasn't made any official announcements yet, 9to5Mac reported that the tech giant posted new specifications for manufacturers in its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod program, which helps companies create devices and accessories compatible with Apple products. These new specifications reportedly guide manufacturers in making headphones and earbuds that fit in the Lightening port.

So, what does all this mean for us casual music fans? For starters, listening to audio on an iOS device just got a whole lot more exclusive. If Apple does transition all of its iOS jacks from 3.5mm to Lightening connectors, then Apple consumers won't be able to use third-party headphones or earbuds to listen to music, video or other forms of entertainment.

According to 9to5Mac, the switch will make the already-innovative tech giant ahead of its competition:

The news Apple is developing some innovative new headphone tech using its own proprietary Lightning connector is significant. If Apple does get partners on board and Lightning headphones prove to be popular with users, it’s easy to see how Apple could push Lightning headphones as a big differentiating feature for iPhone and other Apple devices.
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While this may be shocking, it's not like Apple hasn't done this before. There are already numerous Apple accessories that are exclusive to the company's products and can't be exchanged for a lesser — and cheaper — third-party one. Mac users already know all too well that only Apple-made chargers are compatible with their laptops. iPhones, too, require their special chargers, unlike many other cell phone models. With the switch from 3.5mm jacks to Lightening connector headphones, it'll be just one more Apple product users need to purchase for their iOS devices.

But why now — or better yet, why with Beats by Dre? Business Insider speculates that formatting Beats headphones with Lightening audio could make them higher quality in the long run:

Beats and its products are known for being popular and stylish, though not necessarily high quality or innovative. But with a Lightning plug at the end of their iconic red cords in place of the standard 1/8-inch jack, the company's headphones could deliver high-quality sound that's exclusive to Apple users.

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By using the Lightening connector, tech reporters believe the headphones will not only allow users to listen to clear-sounding tunes, but will also enable them to control their iOS devices. Just by plugging in their headphones, users might be able to launch apps and audio playback. Plus, users may be able to charge their iPhones or iPods while listening to music — not drain the battery, which is the current standard.

Whatever tricks Apple has up its sleeves, get started on your savings now: Beats by Dre headphones cost between $200 and $500. The good news is, they'll definitely go nicely with your iPhone 6.