AirPods have been on a crazy upward trajectory since Apple introduced them in 2016. However, that unassailable rise may have finally stalled, according to a report from Nikkei Asia published Wednesday.
The publication claims that Apple has cut orders for AirPods by 25-30% after being stuck with excess inventory sitting around in warehouses. This is due to the ever-expanding competition Apple faces from other companies making their own rival wireless earbuds — many at a lower price point than Apple.
The report claims that Apple originally forecast 110 million units selling in 2021. It now expects to, instead, manufacture 75-85 million units. Until this point AirPods growth has been in the double-digits each year.
“The most significant order reduction is for the second quarter toward the start of the third quarter,” one person familiar with the matter told Nikkei. “The levels of inventory [in warehouses] and in-store stocks of AirPods are currently high … and demand is not as strong as expected.”
The growth days are over?
This isn’t the first time it’s been suggested that the explosive growth of the AirPods may be over. In a March note to clients, seen by Cult of Mac, renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote that he expected the first ever year-over-year decline in AirPods shipments in 2021. “We cut our forecast of 2021 AirPods shipments by 30–35% to 75–80 million units, which implies the 10–15% YoY decline,” Kuo wrote.
Apple last updated its regular AirPods on March 20, 2019. Its AirPods Pro were last updated on October 30, 2019. Finally, the over-the-ear AirPods Max headphones were introduced four months ago on December 15, 2020. New regular AirPods were originally rumored for Apple’s Spring Loaded event this month. However, they now supposedly won’t turn up until much later this year.
Despite this being possibly the end of massive AirPods growth for Apple, they remain immensely popular. They are the single most popular wireless earbuds on the market. That doesn’t look like it’ll change any time soon. Also, as with many of Apple’s product categories, the ones taking sales away are typically far lower priced. Apple’s therefore pulled off an amazing feat: Not just the makers of the most popular wireless earbuds, but some of the pricier earbuds as well.
Have you purchased new AirPods in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Nikkei Asia