Apple to Launch Upgraded AirPods in Second Half of 2018

Apple is planning on releasing an upgraded version of its AirPods wireless earbuds next year, according to one well-connected analyst.

Demand for Apple’s AirPods this holiday season has been “brisk,” according to KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo. In a recently penned research note distributed to clients on Tuesday, Kuo said that Apple is “struggling to keep up with holiday season demand,” and that its suppliers can’t produce enough AirPods to meet that demand. That’s likely why the Bluetooth earbuds appear to be sold out until January 2018.

But next year, Apple is planning on bumping up its AirPods shipment, Kuo said. He predicts that shipments of the earbuds will grow 100 percent, year-over-year, to about 26 to 28 million units. Interestingly, that little tidbit of information suggests that Apple will have sold 13 to 14 million AirPods globally by the end of 2017, according to KGI’s predictions.

Notably, according to Kuo, some of those units may be an upgraded model of AirPods, which Apple is set to launch in the second half of 2018. Unfortunately, KGI didn’t provide many other details about what the new generation of Bluetooth headphones will feature. Kuo notes that they’ll likely adopt a “smaller quartz component.”

The 2nd generation AirPods will continue to be assembled by Taiwan-based Invenctec, who Apple tapped to assemble the current version of the wireless earbuds. Individual components will be supplied by a group of other Taiwanese companies, including Unitech, Compeq, TXC and HLJ.

As far as other features expected for the next generation of AirPods, Apple in September teased a new Qi inductive charging case for its Bluetooth wireless earbuds meant to work for its upcoming AirPower charging mat.

AirPower, which will also launch next year, can be used to wirelessly power up the AirPods charging case, among other devices like Apple’s current iPhone lineup and the Apple Watch Series 3. In practice, AirPower will allow users to charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously. Presumably, 2nd generation AirPods will ship with the new inductive charging case.

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