Beats Studio Buds offset falling AirPods sales ahead of health-tracking upgrade

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Beats Studio Buds come in white.
An early success.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s new Beats Studio Buds are helping to offset a recent decline in headphones sales before an “innovative” health-tracking AirPods Pro upgrade arrives next year, according to one reliable analyst.

AirPods shipments could fall to just 70-75 million units for 2021, warns TF International Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo. But Apple’s total headphones shipments could jump to more than 100 million units in 2022.

Beats Studio Buds offer many of the great features found in AirPods Pro for $100 less. They also play better with third-party devices powered by Android, and they appear to have been well-received by Apple fans.

In a new note to investors, Kuo says that Studio Buds demand is helping to offset the recent decline in AirPods sales due to a lack of new models. But Apple has big things planned for AirPods Pro in 2022.

‘Innovative’ health-tracking AirPods Pro on the way

Kuo echoes a May report from Bloomberg that revealed Apple is planning to add health tracking features to AirPods Pro next year. He expects the “innovative” upgrade to lead to a big boost in shipments.

While Kuo has reduced his forecast for AirPods shipments this year to 70-75 million units, he predicts new models in 2022 will lead to more than 100 million units shipped throughout the calendar year.

Kuo doesn’t offer details on what kind of features the health-tracking AirPods Pro might provide. Bloomberg’s report suggested new motion sensors that will made the buds even better workout companions.

New AirPods in 2021

Apple is expected to launch new entry-level AirPods later this year. They will reportedly look very similar to AirPods Pro, with shorter stems, but will miss out on “pro” features like active noise cancellation.