The original AirPods became a true sleeper hit for Apple, but demand for the new noise-cancelling AirPods Pro is reportedly “much higher” than the company’s original estimate.
Quoting “people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s production plans,” Bloomberg says Apple now internally expects to double its AirPods shipments to a very respectable 60 million units in 2019 on the strength of the new AirPods Pro.
The $249 AirPods Pro — which offer noise cancellation and water resistance — have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Apple’s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency. There’s currently a wait time of two to three weeks for the AirPods Pro on Apple’s US website.
For context, the original AirPods hit the market in 2016.
In 2019, Apple updated the original models in March and released the new AirPods Pro in October. Rivals have jumped on the bandwagon as well, with the likes of Sony, Samsung and Amazon putting together competitive earbuds of their own.
Total shipments of the AirPods Pro for the year will be determined by how well and how quickly the assemblers overcome the production challenges they currently face. If the overall AirPods range hits 60 million units in 2019 as is now expected, Apple should retain its fifty percent share of the true wireless market, which Counterpoint expects to surpass 120 million shipments for the year.
In the meantime, software giant Microsoft has delayed its AirPods rival, called Surface Earbuds, until spring 2019. Google also won’t be debuting its truly wireless earbuds until 2020. Those delays not only give Apple a clearer retail run this Christmas but also serve as an indication that engineering a pair of tiny earbuds that “just work” is easier said than done.
What’s also true is the fact that AirPods are common on the streets nowadays, and that’s a true testament to the stickiness of the Apple brand and the power of their advertising because I remember people were ridiculing the original earbuds following their debut three years ago.
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