In a very brief research note, which highlights Apple’s suppliers for their popular AirPods (wireless earphones), analyst King-Chi had noted that the new AirPods with a wireless charging case will possibly be revealed in the first quarter of 2019, with an “all new design model”, following in the first quarter of 2020. The updates are expected to drive strong sales growth for the product.
We attribute AirPods’ dramatic growth (14–16mn, 26–28mn, 50–55mn, 70–80mn and 100–110mn units in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively) to 1) the upgraded model with wireless charging support to benefit shipments to launch in 1Q19, 2) the all-new design model to boost replacement demand to launch in 1Q20, 3) an innovative user experience, and 4) high integration with iOS and Mac products. In summary, AirPods is Apple’s most popular accessory ever, and it currently has the best growth momentum among Apple products.
It was also noted by Kuo that just fewer than 5% of iPhone users currently own AirPods, and with over 1 billion iPhone users worldwide, there is “great potential growth opportunities for this new accessoriy.
Nearly a year ago, Kuo had expected that Apple would release upgraded AirPods in the second half of 2018, though with Apple’s difficulties in bringing its AirPower charging mat to market has most likely impacted it’s AirPods to some degree. Just ahead of Apple’s upcoming update, this indicates that it could come in the late fourth quarter or earlier in the first quarter of 2019.