updated 11:50 pm EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
HTC says Beats will be software only
HTC in an interview Friday said it won't pack in Beats Audio's earbuds or other headphones with at least some of its smartphones from now on. Product executive Martin Fichter briefed CNET that, while the on-device Beats Audio processing would stay, ordinary headphones at most would come in the box with models like the Evo 4G LTE and One series. Customers weren't buying for the headphones and thus didn't justify the extra cost.
It was possible some phones might carry the audio, although Fichter didn't see that for any phones in the foreseeable future.
Beats headphones came with some of HTC's smartphones in the latter half of 2011, such as the Rezound and Sensation XL. Along with representing an increasingly crowded smartphone lineup that year, the Beats headphones raised prices at a time when competitors like Samsung could sometimes offer similar or better phones for less. The 2012 HTC line is almost entirely a back-to-basics reboot that has stripped back Sense and other extras to those areas where HTC feels they have the most impact.
HTC bought a controlling 51 percent stake in Beats last year for $300 million as an attempt to give its devices a stand-out feature. With headphones less of a factor, it may be instead swinging Beats towards a streaming music service that would give it a complete media experience without adding to the cost of the phones themselves.