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Despite COVID-19, Apple still expects to ship 90 million AirPods this year for a 50% hike


Apple dominated the wearables industry in 2019 thanks to the Apple Watch and the wireless Bluetooth AirPods. The former is the most popular watch (not just smartwatch) in the world and the latter is the most popular ear-worn wearable on this planet. And Apple took its AirPods to the next tier with the introduction of the AirPods Pro last October. The Pro version of the earbuds feature Active Noise Cancellation, and Transparency mode allows users to hear ambient sounds when they so desire.
This premium version of the AirPods offers a customizable in-ear fit, protection from sweat and splashes and a wireless charging case for $249. The standard AirPods are $199 with a wireless charging case and $159 with a regular charging case. Last year, Apple shipped 60 million pairs of AirPods and this year Apple could deliver 90 million pairs if supply chain sources are correct. That would be a 50% hike year-over-year. Members of Apple's supply chain might be the low men on the totem pole, but due to their unique position, they possess knowledge about Apple's future plans. Since they are charged with producing the correct number of components and parts used to assemble Apple's devices, the supply chain has a very good idea of how many units of each device Apple plans on manufacturing. For the AirPods, they see the aforementioned 90 million pairs being ordered by Apple.

Will Apple unveil an over-the-ear AirPods headset later this year?

The interesting thing is that Apple has not changed this number even in the face of the coronavirus, which you would expect to reduce demand for the accessory. Actually, as recently as last month, the coronavirus forced production of the AirPods to hit a level so low that all available units were reserved for customers of the online and physical Apple Stores. Those purchasing the AirPods Pro were warned that they would have to sit through a one-month waiting period.
And there soon could be a new lower-priced version of the AirPods Pro. Last month, there was speculation about a low-priced version of the product that would be called AirPods Pro Lite; production of the "hearable" is supposed to start late this month or early next month. If Apple sells the standard AirPods version for as low as $159 and the "Pro" variant for $249, why sell a Lite version of the AirPods? The way we see it, the AirPods Pro Lite model could include some form of Active Noise Cancellation at a lower price.
The AirPods name might be used by Apple on an upcoming over-the-ear headphone that showed up in Target's inventory system. Last month we told you that some Target employees were leaking screenshots of the retailer's internal inventory system with one product listed as the Apple AirPods X Generation, priced at $399.99. TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who usually knows all about an Apple device even before CEO Tim Cook signs off on it, says that he expects another high-end pair of AirPods from Apple to materialize at around the mid-point of this year. That sounds  as though that Kuo is talking about the over-the-ear X Generation AirPods and certainly not the AirPods Pro Lite.
The AirPods X Generation could be introduced at the same event that takes the wraps off of the Apple iPhone 9 entry-level handset, and the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets with Apple's most powerful chipset to date (A13X Bionic); these premium slates are expected to feature the same camera setup used on the iPhone 11 Pro models with the addition of a Time of Flight (ToF) depth sensor. The coronavirus has forced Apple to delay this event to an unknown date hopefully in the near future.

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