During its press conference at the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas, Japanese tech giant, Sony, debuted a number of wireless noise-cancelling headphones and Bluetooth speakers, but the one thing that is getting quite a bit of attention are a pair of prototype wireless earbuds along the lines of what Apple introduced with its latest range of iPhones late last year. While this is not the first time that Sony is trying its hand at the wireless earbud segment, its earlier attempt got a lukewarm response from the media and consumers alike. Called Xperia Ear, the device was showcased at the Mobile World Congress trade show last year, with the commercial launch coming later in the year. The device is priced at $199.99 a pair, and unlike Apple’s Airpods, comes with Sony’s own personal digital assistant – Agent.
As for the new ones on display, they are just working prototypes, with no official word on when they might actually go into commercial production. The company, did, however, indicate that it is taking the growing trend of customization seriously, as it showed off the yet-unnamed in-ear earbuds in two different colors - Black and Brown. The company also showed off a charging case for its prototype wireless earbuds, although it refused to give any indications about the price or ETA for either. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Sony to make these devices production ready, because Samsung is also rumored to introduce its own wireless earbuds along with the Galaxy S8 in April this year.
Although Apple’s Airpods have captured the imagination of the global media, they are definitely not the first such devices to have launched in the market. Apart from the aforementioned Xperia Ear from Sony, we have also seen tier-1 brands such as Samsung and Motorola bring their own iterations of the wireless earbuds to the market in previous years, although reaction to them have mostly been muted. That being the case, there’s not a lot of competition in the segment as yet, which is why it is interesting to see that Sony is keeping up with its efforts in trying to fill a void and gain the first-mover advantage in what is still essentially a nascent, untested market, with most of the products failing to get any attention from the mainstream media until now.