Ming-Chi Kuo pours cold water on Apple AirPod sales

From 9to5Mac's "Apple AirPods 3 not launching until Q3, says Ming-Chi Kuo" posted Monday:

Despite a flurry of leaks surrounding next-gen AirPods in the last couple of weeks, Ming-Chi Kuo this morning said that new AirPods will not enter mass production until the third quarter of 2021, which means they won’t be launching imminently...

Kuo says Apple shipped around 90 million AirPods in 2020 and expects that to fall to about 78 million for 2021.

The analyst says Apple may keep second-generation AirPods on the market when AirPods 3 are released. However, he is not sure on this matter yet.

The latest addition to the AirPods family, the $549 over-ear AirPods Max headphones, are said to have limited impact on shipments. Kuo expects Apple will sell just 1 million units across the entire year.

My take: Not having much luck finding support for Kuo's estimate of 90 million AirPods shipped in 2020. Counterpoint estimated at the start of last year that Apple would sell more than 100 million AirPods in 2020. Neil Cybart is also working on an 2020 estimate, but I haven't seen it yet. Apple, of course, is mum on the subject.

See also: How reliable is Ming-Chi Kuo?


  1. Fred Stein said:
    Once again, rumors, i.e. noise, obscures the signal.

    Apple has redefined ‘hearables’. This century old industry, like watches, now comprises a super high-end segment and a mess of Apple imitators. (Plus legacy old tech modestly priced products.)

    Oh, here’s a new word, “taters” for Apple imitators. Taters short for potatoes, or as the French would say, pomes de terre, translates to apples of the earth.

    March 15, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Although I love deeply my Apple Watch, Apple’s Air Pods have got to be the greatest innovation since the iPhone introduction. AirPods are omnipresent. They are so useful, functional and the utility of them are awesome. Many folk think of AirPods used for music. Yet, many folk do not even use them for music as much as they use them for listening to podcasts, viewing discreetly videos and for enhanced telephone conversations. All ages desire the AirPods, from teenagers, young adults, middle age to seniors. In the vein that I describe then view the AirPods as Apple’s greatest innovative development since the iPhone. Even above that of my beloved Watch when one views the AirPods embraced by the consumer.

    Now, if Apple only dives deep into fine-tuning the AirPods for individuals who are hard-of-hearing then suddenly you will see an exponential growth and public embrace of this wondrous device. Thank you Apple.

    March 15, 2021
  3. Steven Philips said:
    If only they fit my ears!

    March 15, 2021
    • John Konopka said:
      You could try third party foam cushions. I have a similar problem. I just ordered some from Comply. We’ll see how they do.

      March 15, 2021
  4. Steven Philips said:
    John: ear canal too small? Let me know how they do?
    Good luck! I don’t want to use over the ears while running. And don’t want to worry about “drop outs”! 🙂

    March 15, 2021
    • John Konopka said:
      Yes, I use the smallest size and I wish they had something a little smaller. They are OK, but not for running.
      You can also find little gadgets that hold the AirPod Pros on your ears. Probably not making a tight seal. At least you won’t lose them.

      March 15, 2021
      • Raimund Wasner said:
        I have the opposite problem… not large enough ):

        January 3, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      Yeah, I’d love to see some type of MagSafe or non-magnetic connector head or neckband that could hold AirPods securely in during physical activity (mine would be cycling) so one could be fairly certain the AirPods don’t fall out.

      I agree with Jerry’s specific use case of hearing aid replacement. Even though hearing aids are now are pretty advanced, they still seem clunky, old fashioned, and pretty expensive. The use of tiny batteries seems wasteful although they do last almost a week. The one advantage hearing aids do have is they are tailored to be rather innocuous and invisible. Apple could easily address the visibility issue with different skin shades coloring for that particular market although tons of people have been clamoring for skin hue, shade, and some color options. However, a skin or thin case might work better from a production SKU and inventory standpoint.

      March 15, 2021
  5. Aaron Belich said:
    “AirPower will be shipping later this month”

    Two days later, Apple presser- AirPower is cancelled.

    The only news worth getting excited over is what Apple reports.

    March 15, 2021

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