The second generation of Apple AirPods is barely a month old and a fresh report suggests that the iPhone maker is planning on releasing its successors in the next year.
According to a new research note from well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF Securities (via MacRumors), Apple is planning not one, but two new AirPods models toward the end of this year — specifically going into production between 2019 and 2020.
Kuo predicts that one model will feature an “all-new form factor design” and sell for a higher price — think “AirPods Pro” — while the other model will be a more iterative update to the current second-generation AirPods that will sell for the same price.
An excerpt from Kuo’s research note:
We expect Apple will likely launch two new AirPods models in 4Q19 at the earliest. One is the all-new form factor design at a higher price. The other’s outlook and price will be the same as the current model’s. A common internal design factor of these two new AirPods will be to abandon the current “SMT+RFPCB” design and change to adopt the SiP design instead for improving assembly yield rates, saving internal space and reducing cost.
Unfortunately, Kuo doesn’t offer any other details about what we might be able to expect from Apple’s next AirPods. Previous rumours have claimed that noise-cancelling tech and possible health-tracking are two of the big things that Apple is working on.
Apple is also said to be mulling a possible external design shift in manufacturing, explains Kuo, shifting to a new SiP design to improve assembly yields, save internal space, and cut costs. Kuo says the new models could lead to Apple’s selling 52 million units in 2019, and 75 million to 85 million units in 2020.
The rest of Kuo’s report focuses on the suppliers that would benefit or suffer due to Apple’s shift. Apple supplier Unitech is expected to be hurt by the manufacturing shift, while existing Apple partners Amkor, Luxshare, and Goertek would gain the majority of the component and assembly orders.
If Apple releases a more expensive and redesigned set of AirPods, it could give a significant average sales price boost to Apple’s most successful new product in years. Apple does not release sales data for its headphones, but an independent analyst previously estimated that 40 million pairs could be sold this year.