Apple’s current AirPods Pro supply woes could soon get much worse, thanks to the new coronavirus spreading throughout China.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, Apple ordered suppliers to produce 45 million AirPods units to catch up with the huge demand. Then, manufacturers shut down production lines through February 10 due to the fast-spreading virus. Now a new report cautions that suppliers might not have enough components to fulfill Apple’s order when production resumes.
The three key manufacturers for AirPods have shut down the majority of their production since Lunar New Year began on January 25. Nikkei reported today that the three companies only have two weeks’ worth of materials and components to make AirPods. Because operations at other component makers have been shut down, too, they may have to wait to get new parts.
AirPods supply problems
Apple is funneling most of the current AirPods supply to its online store and retail locations. The old AirPods are currently in stock but AirPods Pro currently come with a one-month wait time for shipping.
“Because of the virus outbreak, it has already been about two weeks since the assemblers have shipped any new AirPods series,” said a person familiar with the situation that spoke to Nikkei. “All of the stores and carriers selling Apple products are really counting on suppliers to resume work next week.”
With production set to begin in four days, Apple is counting on AirPods suppliers to come through in a crunch. Wearables (including AirPods and Apple Watch) have become Apple’s fastest-growing business recently, providing a critical boost to Apple’s bottom line.
Production utilization rates might only hit 50% during the first week China goes back to work. During Apple’s earnings call this month, CEO Tim Cook admitted that he couldn’t forecast when AirPods Pro supply and demand would finally level out. With more production problems in the forecast, it seems like it could take until summer for shipping dates to return to normal.