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We’ve already heard that Apple’s AirPods are the number one item on teens’ Christmas lists this year, likely responsible for vaulting Apple above even Nike as the most in-demand Christmas brand for 2019, so it’s probably no surprise that sales of Apple’s smart little earbuds are expected to double this year, beating out even the most optimistic estimates of analysts.
According to Bloomberg, those familiar with Apple’s plans have said that the company could ship 60 million AirPods by the end of 2019. This seems to be primarily driven by Apple’s new AirPods Pro, which have turned out to be even more popular than anybody expected, with “much higher” than anticipated demand ever since they were first unveiled late last month.
In fact, according to Bloomberg, demand for the new $249 AirPods Pro is so high that Apple’s assembly partners are being pushed to their capacity and technical limits, so Apple is having a hard time keeping up. It looks like it’s 2016 all over again.
Leading the Pack
Apple’s AirPods took the world by storm when they were released in 2016, and have led the true wireless earbuds market ever since. Within weeks of their launch, they accounted for 25 percent of all wireless headphone sales, despite the fact that it was almost impossible for people to get their hands on a pair in retail stores — it seems many were still willing to wait for the real deal rather than settle for something less.
The original AirPods showed no sign of slowing down either. Even at the the end of 2018 — two years after their release, and a time when a successor was expected to be just around the corner — they still dominated the market with 75 percent of wireless headphone sales that year.
In fact, AirPods are so popular that they’re setting a new standard for what true wireless earbuds should look like, both in terms of the aesthetics, but also how they actually work — Apple’s W1/H1 chips still offer a true wireless experience that’s unrivalled by the competition, most of which still rely on an older and more cumbersome master/slave relationship where only one earbud actually handles the Bluetooth connection, passing it on wirelessly to the other through another protocol known as near-field magnetic induction (NFMI).
AirPods for Christmas
While AirPods have already been high on people’s Christmas lists before, this year marks the first time since 2016 that Apple is offering new models, and this year there are multiple options as well, with the AirPods Pro for those users looking for active noise cancellation or simply a better in-ear fit, along with the new second-generation AirPods that were released last spring that introduced “Hey Siri” support to the AirPods, thanks to Apple’s new H1 chip.
While AirPods already offer unprecedented integration with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Apple has also upped the game even further by introducing new features in iOS 13 like Audio Sharing and Announce Messages with Siri, both of which only work with Apple’s own AirPods and Beats Wireless headphones. In fact, some actually require the very latest H1-equipped versions released this year — the second-generation AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro, and the AirPods Pro — giving users of prior AirPods even more of an incentive to upgrade.
The standard AirPods are also available at two different prices this year — $199 with a Qi-enabled wireless charging case, or $159 with the older style case that has to be plugged into a Lightning cable to charge. This provides consumers with even more options to choose from.
Keeping Up With Demand
The challenge that Apple faces is clearly not going to be convincing people to buy AirPods, but whether its suppliers can keep up with the demand. If they can, however, analysts believe that Apple will easily sell 60 million AirPods in 2019, doubling the numbers from previous years and continuing to dominate with more than half the share of the overall true wireless headphone market.