AirPods 3 release to stem Apple's sales slide, yet 'innovative' AirPods Pro 2 won't, says Kuo

AirPods 3 release to stem Apple's sales slide, yet 'innovative' AirPods Pro 2 won't, says Kuo
After a brief round of confusing AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 release messages, the latest tips from renowned analysts and leakers set Apple's launch timeframe for the next generation of its venerable true wireless buds lines once and for all.

We have been expecting the AirPods 3 to launch in the first half of the year, but June came and went with nary a whiff of an announcement, not even with a simple press release. Subsequent reports, however, pegged the AirPods 3 for a second half release, and advised that the AirPods Pro 2 have been pushed for next year.

Now, thanks to famed Apple clairvoyant Ming-Chi Kuo, and a leaked supplier schedule, we know why Apple may have been taking its time with both the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2 production or launch schemes.

Apple AirPods 3 release

Tucked in an Economic Daily News report on a Taiwanese supplier of bearing for Apple's MacBooks, Beats headphones and AirPods cases, is another confirmation that the hotly anticipated AirPods 3 will launch later this year, likely in September, along with the iPhone 13 crop.

The world's top manufacturer of bearing for laptops and other electronics' hinges, has been hiring operators in the second quarter to meet the H2 order production rush for Apple's upcoming new MacBooks and AirPods 3 charging case. 

"As soon as the third quarter, the shipment momentum will be significantly stronger, which will help operations quickly recover," says the report, tangentially confirming a fall release for both the Pods and the Books.

The reason for the delay in the AirPods 3 and new MacBooks announcement, though, has nothing to do with the bearings, tip the industry insiders, but other components like chips that Apple, like everyone in the industry at the moment, including Samsung with the S21 FE, had trouble sourcing in time for an H1 release.

"AirPods is currently in a period of replacement between new and old products," they continue, and, while the first half shipments saw a 25% year-on-year decrease, the launch of the AirPods 3 during the "peak season" (read: in the run up to Christmas) will help Apple finish with an overall increase in AirPods shipments compared to last year. 

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We can't say we disagree with this analysis and Apple's optimistic order numbers to the supplier, as eventual AirPods 3 will likely be everyone's favorite stocking stuffer this holiday season again.

Moreso, they are expected to sport the new design you see below with shorter stems and wider charging case. Still no ANC, sorry, but a boost in battery life due to a new chip and battery packaging is reportedly in the making.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 release

Adding to the AirPods 3 release reschedule news today, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo just wrote in a memo to its investment crowd clients that Apple has indeed pushed the AirPods Pro 2 launch into 2022. The reason for the investment note wasn't to inform there will be no AirPods Pro 2 in 2021, we already knew this from other sources, but to actually dish out his take on Apple's head- and earphone strategy.

Mr Kuo revised its total AirPods shipment forecast for 2022 to 70 million from 75 million, as, despite the expected AirPods Pro 2 launch then, competitors like Sony with its breathtaking XM4 buds are encroaching into its arguably still record piece of the market pie with increasing success. 

No surprise, as they've actually made a better product at a comparable price, yet he advises that the total audio sales of Apple in the TWS realm will be back to normal when you add categories in the Beats brand, for instance: "Even without the innovative experience of AirPods Pro 2 in 2022, Apple's total TWS device shipment will be back to more than 100 million in 2022."

As for Apple's strategy around the AirPods and Beats brands, Kuo is unequivocal: "AirPods are higher priced, target Apple device users, and aim to provide innovation and eco-experience to increase added value. Beats are lower-priced, target Apple and non-Apple device users, and increase shipments or market share." Do you agree, given how the new Beats Studio Buds turned out in pricing and features?

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