According to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it is possible that the days of massive growth of the AirPods have already finished.
The days of explosive growth for AirPods are possibly over
On a new note from Cult of Mac, Kuo said he anticipates a year-over-year decline in AirPods shipments in 2021. If true, this would be the first year in the history of AirPods. AirPods in which sales did not experience explosive growth.
“We cut our forecast for AirPods shipments in 2021 by 30–35% to 75–80 million units, which is a 10–15% year-on-year decrease. ” We differ from the market consensus of 110 to 120 million units in 2021, which indicates a year-on-year growth of 25 to 30%“, Kuo wrote.
Apple introduced this novel gadget in December 2016 just in time for the important holiday season. From there, the demand went crazy. Apple reportedly sold between 14 million and 16 million in 2017, the first full year out of the headphones. This was followed 35 million units in 2018, almost 60 million in 2019 and, according to Kuo, 90 million units in 2020.
During that time, Apple expanded the range of AirPods, releasing a second-generation version in early 2019 and the Pro version in October of that year. Then he presented his first model for place over the ears with the AirPods Max in 2020.
Will the AirPods 3 not ship until the end of 2021?
Currently, they are supposedly already working on some new third-generation headphones that will have a design in the style of the AirPods Pro, but what lack active noise cancellation. The AirPods 3 have been widely rumored to be part of a Apple product launch event this March. Interestingly, Kuo’s new report suggests that the improved design won’t go into production until the third quarter of 2021. That would make it likely that they would arrive in time for summer break.
Kuo notes that it is not yet clear whether the third generation of headphones will replace the second generation completely. While Apple discontinued the former in March 2019 after launching the AirPods 2, Kuo isn’t so sure how things will play out this time.
“We think it is still difficult to determine whether AirPods 2 will end production after AirPods 3 goes into mass production,” Kuo said. “Apple’s dilemma is that if the seconds are sold at a lower price, it may affect the demand of the third parties, but if there is no lower-priced model of AirPods, it will not be conducive to shipping.”
End of the growth of AirPods
The end of the massive growth of AirPods it wouldn’t be a big surprise. The wireless headphone market continues to grow, with more and more companies entering, many with significantly cheaper deals. This trajectory is not unusual for Apple. Typically, especially when you are one of the first to move, those in Cupertino enjoy several years of massive growth for their successful products.
During that time, other manufacturers create rival products that grab market share but fail to slow down Apple’s sales momentum. After a while, as markets become more saturated and third-party products improve, Apple’s earnings stagnate. This happened with the iPhone and various other products during its history. The only current product category where the growth seems to continue unabated is that of Apple watch.