Updated classic AirPods delay expected into new year, but with ‘Made in Vietnam’ tag

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Keep AirPods Pro noise cancellation switched on -- permanently.
Your next classic AirPods could be made in Vietnam.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The coronavirus and its aftermath appear to be taking a toll on manufacturing of updated AirPods, with a new report indicating an update to Apple’s popular earbuds will be delayed slightly and roll into the first quarter of 2021.

The Nikkei Asian Review also reported Friday sources as saying around 30% of all classic AirPods to be produced this quarter for Apple will be “made in Vietnam”. That the report said is “a sign the company is accelerating its diversification of production out of China amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

The story goes on to say:

“The production relocation does not yet include AirPods Pro, a high-end version with noise cancellation features that Apple introduced last October. … The majority of the AirPods range — including AirPods and AirPods Pro  — are still produced in China.”

Apple’s geographic diversity

Sources reported some 3 million to 4 million of the classic AirPods will be made this quarter in Vietnam and that mass production on them started as early as March.

The move to manufacturing outside of China is not surprising, given the impact on production and supplies in the first quarter. As one supply chain executive told Nikkei, “Most of the U.S. companies including Apple are looking for non-China production. … Some prefer Vietnam and some like Thailand, some in India, and some in the Americas, and others Southeast Asian nations.”

The report coincides with a recent report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said third-generation AirPods will enter mass-production during the first half of 2021. He also reported mass production of second-generation AirPods Pro will start late this year or possibly into early next year.

Kuo also noted that Apple’s rumored over-ear headphones, which are expected to feature a modular design with interchangeable components, will enter mass-production in mid-2020.