AirPods could soon drop in price

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AirPods 2
Apple might be about to make AirPods more affordable.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel

Apple is expected to introduce the third-generation of AirPods this week. But the current version of these truly wireless headphones reportedly won’t be discontinued. This might result in AirPods 2 dropping in price.

It would be quite a change, as Apple’s earbuds are some of the most expensive on the market.

AirPods 2 might become cheaper option after AirPods 3 launch

“We expect AirPods 2 production to continue after AirPods 3 enters mass production,” writes analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities in a research note seen by Cult of Mac. This prediction is likely based on sources in Apple‘s component supply chain.

Kuo points out there are two possible pricing strategies Apple could use. One has AirPods 3 launching at the same cost as the current version while that existing model drops in price. This is the strategy Apple uses for iPhones.

Or AirPods 3 could debut at a higher price than AirPods 2, which don’t see a price reduction. This would still leave the current model as the most affordable, but no cheaper than they are now.

Three AirPods options

The more advanced AirPods Pro came out in 2019 and they aren‘t expected to be replaced in the product lineup for at least a year.

But Apple will hold a press event September 14 and the third-gen basic AirPods are supposedly on the docket. These are expected to be a mix of AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro, with shorter stems but no silicone tips. And no active noise cancellation.

AirPods 3 will allegedly only be sold with a charging case that can itself be wirelessly charged. The second-gen version is available with a wireless charging case for $199 or a wired-charging case for $159. A pricing strategy Apple could move to is selling AirPods 3 only in the wireless-charging case at $199 while offering AirPods 2 only in the wired charging case at $159.

But if Apple goes this route, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t expect an increase in AirPods purchases. That would require Apple to actually drop the cost of AirPods 2.

Time for a change in strategy?

AirPods essentially created the market for truly wireless headphones back in 2016 and they’ve remained quite popular ever since. But competition from cheaper options has reportedly reduced demand.

For example, Samsung Galaxy Buds2 offer active noise cancellation and ambient sound for $149.99. Amazon Echo Buds 2 have ANC for $119.99. And there’s a range of super-cheap options in the web. Reducing the cost of AirPods 2 would help Apple compete with these lower cost options.