It looks like Apple's next-generation AirPods will launch in 2019

Stephen Lam/Getty Images
  • Apple won’t release new wireless-charging-enabled AirPods headphones until early next year, according to a prediction from the well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
  • AirPods will get an “all-new” design in 2020, Kuo said in a note.
  • “We believe that there is a greater likelihood of legacy iPhone users buying AirPods than upgrading to new iPhone models,” Kuo wrote, according to the note from TF International Securities seen by Business Insider.

It sounds as if there won’t be next-generation Apple AirPods during the holiday shopping season.

Apple said in 2017 that it was preparing a new version of its wireless earbuds that would support wireless charging, but they haven’t been released.

Now, it looks as if they will come out in the first quarter of 2019, according to a prediction from the well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at TF International Securities.

The new AirPods model will also have Bluetooth upgrades, according to the note from Thursday seen by Business Insider.

From the note:

“The main selling points of the new AirPods that will launch in 1Q19 are Bluetooth spec upgrades and a new charging box supporting wireless charging. The ASP of the hinge of the new charging box will rise by 60-80% because of spec upgrades for appearance design changes and higher thermal requirements. SZS will be the main or sole supplier for this, thanks to its better design capabilities.”

But the bigger upgrade won’t launch until the first quarter of 2020, the note predicted. That version will have an “all-new design model to boost replacement demand,” Kuo wrote.

Apple’s fastest-growing product?

Apple airpodsApple

Though Apple has not released sales figures for its AirPods, they seem like a hit in wealthy urban areas, with the white earbuds adorning many ears on commuters in the morning. Kuo calls them “Apple’s most popular accessory ever.”

Kuo wrote that their “growth momentum” would be the “fastest among Apple products” and that they would grow by nearly 80% and 90% over 2018 and 2019.

He also provides sales estimates:

2017: 14 million to 16 million

2018: 26 million to 28 million

2019: 50 million to 55 million

2020: 70 million to 80 million

2021: 100 million to 110 million

Ultimately as iPhone growth slows, AirPods become one of Apple’s most important products to continue driving growth.

“We believe that there is a greater likelihood of legacy iPhone users buying AirPods than upgrading to new iPhone models,” the note said.

Kuo’s notes are focused on Asian hardware companies that sell parts and assembly services to Apple and other consumer-electronics makers. He’s picked Luxshare ICT, Unitech, SZS, and HJL as companies that may stand to benefit from skyrocketing AirPods sales.

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