In a research note Monday, TFI Asset Management analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple AirPods shipments will decline in 2021 — due in part to increasing competition in the wireless stereo audio market. Kuo’s thesis is that while the market is still growing, focus is shifting to cheaper alternatives.
Kuo cut his 2021 shipment forecast for AirPods by 30% to 35%, to 75 million to 80 million units, which he notes would be down 10% to 15% from 2020. He writes that the Wall Street analyst consensus for this year is 110 million to 120 million units this year, which would be up 25% to 30%.
Kuo writes that his research finds that Apple AirPods shipments in the first three quarters of 2021 will be off about 25% year over year. Even better-than-expected demand for AirPods 3, which he expects to go into mass production in the third quarter, will do no better than keep calendar-fourth-quarter sales flat year over year. He also reports that shipments of the AirPods Max headphone line has been modest, projecting shipments this year of about 1 million units.
MacDailyNews Take: Ming-Chi Kuo is excellent at predicting materials to be used in hardware. We’re not so convinced of his ability to predict unit shipments, especially as his thesis seem to assume that Apple will keep AirPods and AirPods Pro pricing the same, even as they introduce AirPods 3 and achieve cost savings due to economy of scale.