Apple was predicted to update its AirPods earphones line this year, but it’s now increasingly looking that the refresh could be delayed until next year as Apple is moving a substantial amount of AirPods production from China to Vietnam to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Apple will produce millions of its popular AirPods wireless earphones in Vietnam for the first time this quarter, sources familiar with the matter told Nikkei Asian Review, in a sign the company is accelerating its diversification of production out of China amid the coronavirus pandemic.
While the majority of AirPods and AirPods Pro units are currently being assembled in China, some thirty percent of total classic AirPods production this quarter will be made in Vietnam, apparently. We’re talking between three and four million units, so this is a substantial amount of AirPods production being shifted from China to Vietnam.
Apple reportedly kicked off mass production of the AirPods in Vietnam back in March. The country has begun easing lockdown measures in April and workers have returned to factories, with the Vietnamese officials even granting special permits for a key AirPods assembler to help them bring in engineers to the country “for smooth production during lockdowns.”
“The production relocation does not yet include AirPods Pro, a high-end version with noise-cancellation features that Apple introduced last October,” added today’s report. Nikkei Asian Review reported in July of last year that Apple was trialing AirPods production in Vietnam.
Apple’s been looking to diversify the AirPods supply chain to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, a disease it causes. Another reason could be avoiding additional tariffs on wearable electronics devices that the Trump administration put into effect last year.
The Nikkei report corroborates recent predictions by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who said in April that he didn’t believe we’d see a new pair of AirPods Pro in 2020, or even 2021.