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Apple's AirPods finally head for shelves

Apple's managed to get its new earbuds in under the wire.

AirPods are now available online and will hit shelves next week, just in time for the last days of the holiday shopping season, the tech giant said Tuesday.

The $159 wireless AirPods were delayed in late October, after Apple said it needed more time before the device would be ready to ship. After their hotly anticipated September release, reviewers complained the AirPods "look odd" and had occasional glitches.

The accessories — which claim to be more power efficient than Bluetooth devices, thanks to a special communications chip — are a crucial selling point for Apple's flagship device, the iPhone 7, which lacks a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

"It makes no sense to tether ourselves with cables to our mobile devices," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said at the company's September product launch in San Francisco.

With the AirPods missing some of the year's biggest shopping days, the stakes are high. Apple CEO Tim Cook has promised investors that the company is returning to growth after reporting three straight quarters of lower year-over-year sales.