The box of future iPhone 12 could be smaller than that of previous generations, because less stocked. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often aims just, Apple may indeed not include wired headphones with the iPhone 12. It would be a first for Apple, but it is a practice already used by other manufacturers.
OnePlus, for example, does not deliver headphones with its smartphones … except in Europe, where regulations oblige manufacturers to supply "An accessory limiting the exposure of the head to radioelectric emissions" (article L34-9 of the Post and Electronic Communications Code in France), an accessory which always takes the form of headphones.
So when you order the OnePlus 8 in France, Italy, or Germany, you have " gift " wired headphones, delivered in a separate box. If by chance Apple really removes the EarPods from the iPhone 12 box, this would probably not concern European customers.
In any case, several reasons could push Apple to no longer provide headphones to all new iPhone owners. First, it would of course save the brand money. There is also the ecological argument: how many EarPods are produced for nothing and remain in their box indefinitely because customers already have headphones? And then obviously, this could benefit AirPods sales. Smart as not two, Apple could also make a special offer on its wireless headphones at the end of the year…