Apple is expected to launch new entry-level AirPods with a form factor design similar to AirPods Pro in the first half of 2021, and Kuo’s latest note advances his earlier prediction by underlining the need for SiP technology to integrate the earbuds’ audio features into the smaller casing. Introduced in 2019, AirPods Pro feature a different in-ear design to AirPods, with shorter stems below the ear.
Based on the so-called “AirPods 3” arriving in the first half of next year, Kuo believes current-generation AirPods Pro part suppliers should see component shipments grow an estimated 50 percent to 100 percent year over year. The existing second-generation AirPods are expected to be discontinued when the new models are launched.
Amkor, JCET and Huanxu Electronics are in line to supply the SiP components, while Shin Zu Shing is expected to supply the AirPods case hinge, said Kuo.
Overall AirPods shipments are projected to slow in 2021, with growth expected at 28 percent year on year, compared to an expected 65.1 percent growth year on year in 2020, which Kuo believes will be stimulated by Apple’s decision to sell the “iPhone 12” without wired EarPods included in the box.