According to a paywalled report from DigiTimes today, suppliers tasked with helping to bring “Apple’s upcoming AirPods series” to market are concerned that the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, will have a far more serious impact on potential demand for the new truly wireless headphones. This is a shift from the previous fears which were tied directly to manufacturing. The report indicates that suppliers are expecting manufacturing to be fine moving forward, but the coronavirus may temper potential customer demand.
Social distancing is the go-to resource for trying to mitigate the global spread of the coronavirus, and many companies and organizations have taken to shutting down operations for a set period of time to help with that. Apple Stores outside of China are shutting down until later this month, for example. And these latest concerns from suppliers seems to suggest that with stores closed, and social distancing in general, will keep sales down.
Apple has been rumored to be releasing new AirPods, sometimes referred to as “AirPods Pro Lite”, in the near future. It would be yet another option for customers looking to jump on board the truly wireless headphone bandwagon, if they haven’t already done so (which is an admittedly shrinking pool). The major unknown element at this point is pricing. The newly-released AirPods Pro, which launched in late 2019, cost $249. Meanwhile, AirPods with a wireless charging case is tagged at $199. And if you opt for the AirPods without a wireless charging case, that will set you back $159.
Previous reports regarding the AirPods Pro Lite suggest they will launch sometime in 2020, probably relatively early in the year. As far as features go, the expectation here is that the new model will feature a similar design to the AirPods Pro, meaning they’ll have a more in-ear design with various sizing options, and that they will also share a similar audio quality to the high-end AirPods Pro. However, the new, unannounced AirPods will not feature Active Noise Cancellation, which could keep the cost low.
A shift of concern from production to consumer demand makes sense, but the question at this point is whether or not that is going to stop Apple from actually launching a new pair of AirPods. Earlier today could be a sign that will not be the case. Apple introduced the new Powerbeats wireless headphones this morning, with a planned launch later this week. So the company is obviously not completely against the idea of launching new products during this pandemic.
But, what do you think? Should Apple launch the new AirPods soon? Or should the company wait?