Whenever Apple makes a move, everyone takes notice and entrepreneurs like Jack Kim, who is banking on wireless earbuds being the next big thing, will be there to take advantage of the situation.
Kim reckons that Apple is bringing the fully wireless earbud category into the mainstream, and he may be right. There are already piles of them making their way to market this year, including many from crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They may have a fighting chance, too.
The AirPods are tiny, and thanks to the lack of a tether, they'll be easy to lose. They will also need to be stored in a charging container, which will need to be charged after every 24 hours of use, and the AirPods themselves after every five hours of use. They are not expected to sound significantly better than Apple’s regular EarPods, or at least, Apple has not made any claims that they will. And they will cost a cool US$ 159. This adds up to a big opportunity for anyone who can provide a good alternative.
According to Kim, now is the perfect time to try to capitalize on this momentum with a competitive product that places a heavy emphasis on brand. His solution is his US$ 89 AirPod competitor, the Aero Flux.
Kim's confidence is somewhat audacious given that he freely admits to having no experience with hardware products prior to his short-lived experiment selling used PC laptops as ready-to-run Hackintoshes. But hardware experience isn’t necessarily a requirement when you’re buying off-the-shelf components from China and reselling them under your own brand.
"It’s genuinely hard to start a hardware business from scratch," he told Digital Trends, noting that to do so requires a lot of money he doesn’t have. Instead, he intends to follow many other companies using the so-called OEM (original equipment manufacturer) strategy, sourcing his product from other manufacturers with "the simple belief that if I sell the equal quality (perceived for genuine) for half the price, people will buy."
The Aero Flux may be half the price of Apple’s AirPods, but will potential buyers actually compare these two products? A quick search through Amazon for "wireless earbuds" reveals at least a dozen similar products with prices that range between US$ 25 and US$ 199, including a US$ 99 product called Jabees BTwins that is identical to the Flux. So identical in fact, that anybody can make out where Kim has tried to remove the Jabees brand from his lead product image and replace it with his own Aero logo. Kim will be one of countless entrepreneurs pitching AirPod competitors. In fact, U.K. reviewer Craig Bradshaw made the comparison when he tested the BTwins, asking if they’re "an AirPods Killer?"
The good news for Kim and his prospective Flux customers is that Bradshaw liked the Jabees earbuds, though he noted dropped Bluetooth signals and call quality were issues: "Making and receiving calls on these earbuds is almost a no go," he wrote.