KGI: AirPods Shipments Will Double Next Year Given Strong Demand

AirPods will remain one of Apple's most popular accessories in 2018, with shipments likely to double to an estimated 26-28 million units on a year-over-year basis, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Kuo said there has been strong demand for AirPods, which he views as the most important accessory in Apple's wireless ecosystem. His prediction implies AirPods shipments will total 13-14 million units in 2017.

An excerpt from Kuo's latest research note with investment firm KGI Securities, a copy of which was obtained by MacRumors:
We believe demand for AirPods has been strong, and note that the shipping time of the product on Apple's official shopping website has shortened to 1-3 days, mainly thanks to an improved assembly process and increased capacity from Luxshare as the new assembler […] We expect AirPods to remain one of the most popular Apple accessories in 2018, with shipments likely to rise 100% YoY to 26-28mn units next year.
Chinese company Luxshare could become the main assembler of AirPods in 2018, with a higher order allocation than fellow supplier Inventec, after improving its assembly process and increasing production capacity.

Apple doesn't break out AirPods sales like it does with iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Instead, it groups the wireless earphones under its "Other Products" category, alongside Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats, iPods, and other accessories.

Apple reported revenue of $3.2 billion from its "Other Products" category last quarter, up 36 percent year over year.

Last month, on an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was "thrilled with the momentum" of AirPods. He boasted that Apple's entire wearables business generated the annual revenue of a "Fortune 400" company in the 2017 fiscal year.
The combination of music streaming on Apple Music and AirPods is truly a magical experience for people on the go. We're thrilled with the momentum of these products. In fact, our entire wearables business was up 75 percent year over year in the fourth quarter, and in fiscal 2017, already generated the annual revenue of a Fortune 400 company.
AirPods launched for $159 in December 2016 after a two month delay, but orders on Apple's website faced a six-week shipping estimate until August 2017 as Apple struggled to improve the supply-demand balance of the wireless earphones.

AirPods shipping estimates have gradually improved since then, with orders now slated for delivery in under one week.

We haven't heard many rumors about second-generation AirPods, but Apple will be releasing an inductive charging case for the wireless earphones designed to work with its AirPower charging mat, which itself will launch in early 2018.


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Apple AirPods vs. Google Pixel Buds

The Pixel Buds, Google's $159 headphones designed to compete with Apple's AirPods, finally launched this week so we thought we'd pit the two devices against one another to see how they measure up.

While the AirPods are widely loved and have received mostly positive reviews from customers and media sites, things aren't looking quite as rosy for the Pixel Buds. In a lot of ways, the Pixel Buds don't measure up to the AirPods, and in the video below, we compare design, features, sound quality, comfort, and other metrics.

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Pixel Buds and AirPods both cost $159 and are Bluetooth earphones designed for the Google and Apple ecosystems, respectively, but when it comes to design, they're quite a bit different. The AirPods are entirely wire-free, but the Pixel Buds have an adjustable cord that connects the two earpieces together. Each is stored in a case that provides extra battery.

Both earphones support touch and tap gestures to do things like activate Siri or Google Assistant and control music playback, but each one has shortcomings. There's no volume control on the AirPods, meaning you need to use Siri or your connected device to adjust volume, and on the Pixel Buds, there's no gesture for switching tasks, so you need to use Google Assistant. By the way, when connected to an iPhone, Google Assistant functionality doesn't work.


AirPods have a nifty feature that stops music playback when an AirPod is removed from the ear, and there's no equivalent feature on the Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds do have a unique translation feature, but as it turns out, it requires Google Translate on a smartphone and isn't too much different from just using your phone for translation purposes.

The W1 chip built into the AirPods allows them to be swapped seamlessly between Apple devices and is one of the best AirPods features, while the Pixel Buds aren't quite as convenient. On Android devices, you need to put the buds back in their case, hold the pair button, and then re-pair when you want to switch.


At their price point, both the AirPods and the Pixel Buds offer relatively decent sound, but we did feel that the AirPods were better in this regard. The Pixel Buds sounded somewhat muddled, especially when using Spotify.

Given some of the shortcomings of the Pixel Buds, the AirPods seem to have them beat, based on our own experience with the two products and a range of less than enthusiastic Pixel Bud reviews from media sites. And of course, as an Apple-centric site with employees that largely use iOS devices, MacRumors is partial to the AirPods.


We may prefer the AirPods to the Pixel Buds, but as with our comparison between the iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2 XL, choosing between the AirPods and the Pixel Buds largely comes down to the ecosystem you're using. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, the AirPods are the obvious choice.

If you don't have an iPhone or another Apple device, you're not going to get the benefits of the W1 chip, so it may be worth considering the Pixel Buds instead. And, of course, there's always the neither option -- there are hundreds of other Bluetooth headphones on the market.


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MacRumors Giveaway: Win Custom-Painted Black AirPods From BlackPods

Our BlackPods giveaways have been extremely popular with MacRumors readers, so this week, we've once again teamed up with BlackPods to offer you a chance to win a pair of AirPods that have been custom-painted black to better match darker devices.

Black AirPods pair especially well with the new iPhone X, which features an OLED display with a thin black bezel even on the iPhone X models that come in silver.


BlackPods takes a standard pair of Apple AirPods and then paints them black using a proprietary coating system. The company uses a three-phase finishing process for a high-quality coating of paint that's not going to chip, fade, scuff, or wear off.

Each pair of BlackPods is completed by hand and is given a rigorous inspection to ensure a flawless finish. There are two options when it comes to BlackPods -- the BlackPods classic, with a high-gloss look, and the BlackPods Stealth, which has a matte satin finish.


BlackPods charges $279 for the BlackPods Classic and $299 for the BlackPods Stealth, a $120 to $140 premium over Apple's standard AirPods, but it's the only way to get a unique black finish on your AirPods.

Along with selling finished sets of painted AirPods, BlackPods also lets customers send previously purchased AirPods in for customization. This process costs $99 for the glossy black and $119 for the matte black, and it takes approximately 10 days to complete. Painting of both the AirPods and the case is included in the price.


Because BlackPods are re-painted AirPods, the full AirPods functionality remains intact, with a W1 chip for simple pairing, a long battery life, an accelerometer for ear detection, and gesture support.

We have one set of BlackPods to give away to a MacRumors reader, with the winner able to choose a Stealth or Classic finish. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (November 10) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on November 17. The winner will be chosen randomly on November 17 and will be contacted by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before a new winner is chosen.


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Trio of Apple Suppliers Report Bumper Revenues for October

Three Apple suppliers shared revenue reports today, providing a glimpse at how their contributions to Apple's latest product line-up affected their income in the month of October. Unsurprisingly, suppliers for Apple's flagship iPhone X, Pegatron and Wistron, both had good news to share with investors.

Pegatron reported consolidated revenues of $5.52 billion for October 2017, representing a 8.34 percent increase on month and 10.14 percent increase on year. Wistron had consolidated revenues of US$2.98 billion, a 12.37 percent increase on month and a 36.81 percent increase on year.


Elsewhere, Taiwan-based AirPods manufacturer Inventec saw revenues rise to $1.43 billion for October, representing a modest 0.45 percent increase on month but a more substantial 16.54 percent increase on year.

Apple switched to an all-glass casing for this year's entire iPhone lineup in order to support wireless charging, with Pegatron benefitting as the exclusive supplier of the wireless charger. Meanwhile, in its push to manufacture products locally in India, Apple chose Wistron to be the first original equipment manufacturer for 2017 iPhones in the country.

Inventec's more staggered rise in sales mirrors Apple's gradual achievement of supply/demand balance for AirPods. The popular earphones were introduced in September 2016, but prior to August, had been in extremely short supply, with a typical wait time of six weeks from order to delivery. By the end of September however, shipping estimates improved to 3 to 5 business days.

Looking ahead, Foxconn, Pegatron and Wistron have their work cut out to help Apple achieve supply/demand balance for the iPhone X, with online orders currently averaging a 3 to 4 week wait globally. Wistron's India operations also look set to expand beyond its current iPhone manufacturing plant in Bangalore, with recent reports that the OEM plans to build additional facilities in the region, while Inventec has reportedly landed large orders to manufacture Apple's Siri-based HomePod speaker, which is set to debut next month.

Related Roundups: HomePod, iPhone X
Tag: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Suppliers Expect Rising Revenues in Q4 2017 from Sales of AirPods and Apple Watch S3

Upstream suppliers are expected to see strong growth in wearable product operations in the fourth quarter of this year thanks to rising sales of Apple's AirPods and Apple Watch range, according to sources in the supply chain (via DigiTimes).

Quanta, Iventec, Universal Scientific Industrial (USI), as well as Foxconn subsidiaries Shunshin Tech and Luxshare-ICT are all expected to benefit from increased sales in Q4 2017, as Apple achieves supply/demand balance for its AirPods and consumer interest in the latest Apple Watch models increases into the holiday season.

Quanta and USI have been long-term supply-chain partners of the Apple Watch series and are expected to see a significant revenue contribution from the orders, while Shunsin has just recently joined the supply chain to provide SiP services and will begin processing related orders in February or March 2018, the sources noted.

As for the AirPods, the sources pointed out that the shortages have already eased and Apple has also increased its orders for the device.
Inventec is the manufacturer of the AirPods, while the device's proprietary W1 chip that allows seamless pairing is supplied by Luxshare-ICT. In addition to the orders, Luxshare-ICT also supplies connectors, cables and antennas for Mac and iPhone products.

AirPods now ship from the online Apple Store in just three to five business days in the United States, Canada, U.K., Australia, and several other countries around the world. Prior to August, the popular earphones had been in extremely short supply, with a typical wait time of six weeks from order to delivery.

Meanwhile, Apple has been getting backordered Apple Watch Series 3 LTE models out quicker than expected, with several customers who expected their devices in mid-October already receiving shipment confirmations.

All Apple Watch Series 3 models with LTE connectivity list shipment dates of at least three to four weeks when purchased online in the United States, and availability is similarly limited in other countries, but indications are that the wait could in fact be shorter. Non-LTE Series 3 Apple Watch models are readily available in stores and will ship out right away, while Nike+ models won't start arriving to customers until Thursday, October 5.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4
Tag: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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AirPods Shipping Estimates Improve to 3 to 5 Business Days

Apple is closing in on its aim to achieve supply/demand balance for its AirPods, with the popular earphones now shipping from the online Apple Store in just three to five business days in the United States, Canada, U.K., Australia, and several other countries around the world.

According to Apple's U.S. website, AirPods ordered today will be delivered between October 4 and October 6, while U.K. customers ordering today are being quoted delivery dates between October 3 and October 5. These are the best estimates Apple has offered since the AirPods launched in December 2016.


AirPods have been in extremely short supply since they became available for purchase, with a typical wait time of six weeks from order to delivery. Only in August did stock begin steadily improving, with shipping estimates dropping to four weeks and then two to three weeks. Earlier this month, estimates improved to one to two weeks, before hitting three to five business days today.

During Apple's third quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple had boosted AirPods production capacity and was "working very hard" to get AirPods to customers as quickly as possible.

Occasionally, Apple retail stores have received stock and third-party retailers like Best Buy have been able to offer AirPods with faster shipping on a regular basis, but those stocks have usually run out fast.

Costing $159, Apple's "truly wireless" AirPods have gained popularity due to their long battery life, capacious charge case, infrared sensors that detect when they're being worn, touch-based gestures, and a built-in W1 chip that improves Bluetooth connection. AirPods are also relatively inexpensive compared to rival "truly wireless" earbuds that have launched in recent months.

Tag: AirPods

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How to Set Your AirPods to Change Music Tracks in iOS 11

If you have AirPods, there are new features you should be aware of in iOS 11, including a new option to change tracks directly on the earphones using a double tap gesture.

The new gestures are available alongside current gestures, which allow users to summon Siri with a tap. All of the options for your AirPods can be accessed in the Settings app while the AirPods are connected to your iPhone or iPad. Here's how:


  1. Open your AirPods case while your AirPods are near your iPhone so they connect.

  2. Open the Settings app.

  3. Select "Bluetooth."

  4. Tap the little "i" button next to your AirPods.

From this menu, you can customize the name of your AirPods, enable or disable manual ear detection, choose to use the left or right AirPod microphone, and most importantly, choose what happens when you double tap an AirPod.

You can set different gestures for the left and the right AirPod. Options include Siri, Play/Pause, Off, Next Track, and Previous Track. The latter two options are new in iOS 11.


To set a gesture, you only need to tap it. If you choose Next Track for one AirPod and Previous Track for another, you can quickly and easily switch between songs that are playing, without the need to invoke Siri.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tag: AirPods

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AirPods Wireless Charging Case Rumored for December Launch at $69

During Tuesday's event, Apple revealed that the rumored new version of its AirPods headphones were not in fact the "AirPods 2," but simply a new inductive wireless charging case that users will be able to purchase as a replacement for their current charging cases. No release date or price was mentioned, but information reportedly sourced from Apple Switzerland (via MacPrime) [Google Translate] suggests a December launch date for the new AirPods wireless charging case, which will cost $69.


Apple's out-of-warranty fee to repair or replace the AirPods charging case is $69, so a similar price point for the wireless charging version does make some sense. The only design change made to the new charging case is the placement of the LED battery indicator light, which has migrated from the inside of the case to the outside on the front.

This way, when users place the case down on a Qi-compatible charging pad, they'll be able to see the battery level of the AirPods' case without needing to open the top. Apple will be launching its own Qi charging station -- called the AirPower mat -- sometime in 2018, but until then owners of the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and AirPods will need to purchase third-party charging pads.


In regards to the new AirPods wireless charging case, it's still unclear if Apple will offer a version that also includes the AirPods themselves at the typical $159 price tag. The original AirPods launched in December of 2016.

Tag: AirPods

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Jaybird Announces RUN True Wireless Headphones With Charging Case for $180

Sport headphone company Jaybird today announced two new pairs of wireless headphones, including its first pair of truly wireless Bluetooth earbuds.

The Jaybird RUN True Wireless Headphones feature a four-hour battery life and come with a pocket-sized charging case providing an additional eight hours, for a total of 12 hours of battery life on the go, while a five-minute charge gives around one hour of play time.


Jaybird says the buds have a "double hydrophobic nano coating" that protects them from sweat and water damage. There's a single button on both earpieces that takes calls, starts and stops music, skips tracks, and activates Siri. The buds are also designed for one-ear use, allowing runners to stay more aware of their surroundings.

The Jaybird mobile app lets users adjust the sound signature of the earbuds in the lows, miss, and highs, and includes a Find My Buds feature if they go missing. The app also supports sharing of Spotify running-themed playlists with other Jaybird users.

At $180, the Jaybird RUN headphones are pricier than Apple's AirPods ($159) and come in two colors: Drift, which has white and silver metal accents, and Jet, which is black with silver metal accents.


The company's second new pair of headphones are basically a redesign of its miniscule Freedom buds and still have a wire that connects them behind the neck, but the Freedom 2 are said to have an improved fit and greater comfort, with double the battery life (up to eight hours) and water resistance.

The Freedom 2 headphones cost $149, and along with the new RUN earbuds should be available in stores in October, with pre-orders beginning today over on BestBuy, Amazon, and the Jaybird website.


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Apple Introduces New Second-Generation AirPods Case With Wireless Charging Support

At today's iPhone-centric event, Apple briefly introduced a new second-generation AirPods case that features support for wireless charging.

The AirPods Case is physically identical to the current-generation AirPods Case, with the exception of a charging indicator light located on the outside of the case instead of the inside.


Apple's new AirPods Case will work with the company's upcoming "AirPower" wireless charging mat, which will be able to charge the AirPods, the Apple Watch Series 3, and the iPhone X or iPhone 8 simultaneously.

Apple does not yet appear to be offering the new AirPods Case either on a standalone basis or in a set with AirPods. It may be coming at a later date, as the AirPower charging accessory is not expected to ship until 2018.

Tag: AirPods

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