AirPods Max expected to sell less than 1 million units in 2021, says analyst

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 15
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple has a "dilemma" over AirPods sales in 2021, which is not helped by how relatively few AirPods Max he predicts will be sold.

AirPods Max
AirPods Max


In an investment note seen by AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported that "AirPods 3" will not enter mass production until Q3 2021. It's not clear whether Apple will discontinue the AirPods 2 on launch, however, as Kuo sees issues with Apple's overall AirPods range, including the newest AirPods Max.

"In terms of product mix, we predict that AirPods 2 shipments will decrease significantly to about 3 million units in 3Q21 (vs. 12 million units in 3Q20)," writes Kuo. "We believe that the product transition is the main reason for the AirPods 2 shipment decline. We think it is still difficult to determine whether AirPods 2 will end production after AirPods 3 goes into mass production."

"If AirPods 2 will go to end-of-life after AirPods 3's mass production," continues Kuo, "we estimate AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, and AirPods Max will account for about 40%, 28%, 31%, and 1% of total shipments, respectively, in 2021."

"If AirPods 2 will continue production after mass production of AirPods 3," the note says, "we estimate AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, and AirPods Max will account for about 32%, 28%, 39%, and 1% of total shipments in 2021, respectively."

Kuo describes the AirPods Max as being of "limited help" to the product line, predicting "an annual shipment of about 1 million units."

Regardless of whether Apple retains the AirPods 2 or not, Kuo expects the AirPods Max to account for at most 1% of all AirPods sales in 2021. And he sees the range overall as declining in the face of competition from lower-cost rivals.

"We believe that the decline in AirPods shipments is due to the lack of a solid ecosystem to protect shipments' growth when it is difficult to differentiate the hardware selling points from competitors' low-price products," he writes.

"The key to the initial success of AirPods is the ease of use of Bluetooth connectivity and the high quality offered by TWS [True Wireless]," says Kuo. "While AirPods are still ahead of the competition in these two features, the leading advantages are gradually offset by competitors' strategies to improve the user experience and lower the price."

"[Sales] results show that consumers are not very willing to spend more than $100 to buy the selling points of AirPods Pro," he continues. "We believe that if AirPods shipments want to grow again in the future, they need to have a strong ecosystem or redefine TWS users' behavior through hardware innovation (such as providing health management functions.)"

Apple has not announced future health enhancements to the AirPods range. However, multiple patents and patent applications suggest that it's an area the company is pursuing.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,150member
    I wouldn't be shocked if the life of AirPods Max mirrors that of the HomePod. Apple seem ok with releasing trial/ stepping stone products - which leads to a concern that the success of the cheaper products is used internally as evidence for why they should discontinue high quality niche items.

    However Apple is not like Sony, Sonos or Bose - Apple exists as a platform, they can't service just their most popular lines and expect consumers to not move to alternatives. We saw how Apple making little progress in their pro-hardware lineup led to certain newer technologies only able to be developed on PCs. This really isn't a mistake that Apple can keep making. It's why Adobe can't break out of their core 5 apps and why Google have tremendous difficulty converting users into new products.
    eightzero
  • Reply 2 of 13
    I’m one of the people affected by an allergy to Apple’s AirPods Pro silicon tips.

    I love the AirPods Max. They sound great, and the transparency mode and ANC are mind blowing.

    But they’re TOO EXPENSIVE.

    There has to be a way for Apple to maintain function and sound quality while reducing the price. I don’t care if they end up being plastic. Costs have to be cut somewhere.

    Otherwise these will go the way of the HomePod, which had a similar pricing problem.
    entropysflyingdpchemengin1
  • Reply 3 of 13
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,886member
    Kuo describes the AirPods Max as being of "limited help" to the product line, predicting "an annual shipment of about 1 million units.”
    Optimist.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 121member
    I’m one of the people affected by an allergy to Apple’s AirPods Pro silicon tips.

    ...
    There are many third parties that sell alternative tips for the AirPod Pros.  You can find a wide selection of foam tips on Amazon.
    ronnBeats
  • Reply 5 of 13
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    I can't see an issue here. AP Max were never going to be a mass market product. They will sell enough to be profitable for a while. The price will come down a little and the case will get a vast improvement in the next version. They will be profitable for a little longer. 

    They aren't a 'must have' by any stretch of the imagination so fall into Mac Pro 'wheels' category. Something that is there if you think you need it and are happy with the price. 


    ronn
  • Reply 6 of 13
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 742member
    mfryd said:
    I’m one of the people affected by an allergy to Apple’s AirPods Pro silicon tips.

    ...
    There are many third parties that sell alternative tips for the AirPod Pros.  You can find a wide selection of foam tips on Amazon.
    I too am one of the people affected. I bought some of the third party tips and while I no longer have an allergy, one of them still fall out, even promised by the manufacturer that they wouldn't. 
  • Reply 7 of 13
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 639member
    avon b7 said:
    I can't see an issue here. AP Max were never going to be a mass market product. They will sell enough to be profitable for a while. The price will come down a little and the case will get a vast improvement in the next version. They will be profitable for a little longer. 

    They aren't a 'must have' by any stretch of the imagination so fall into Mac Pro 'wheels' category. Something that is there if you think you need it and are happy with the price. 


    Whatah.....im so happy w my two stereo Homepod yet it was cancelled/discontinued ....mad mad mad
  • Reply 8 of 13
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    avon b7 said:
    I can't see an issue here. AP Max were never going to be a mass market product. They will sell enough to be profitable for a while. The price will come down a little and the case will get a vast improvement in the next version. They will be profitable for a little longer. 

    They aren't a 'must have' by any stretch of the imagination so fall into Mac Pro 'wheels' category. Something that is there if you think you need it and are happy with the price. 


    Whatah.....im so happy w my two stereo Homepod yet it was cancelled/discontinued ....mad mad mad
    There's that risk of course but my point was more on the sales expectations involved. 

    I think Apple would be over the moon with 1 million AP Max sold and they are far more 'independent' as a device than the HP. 

    If they were cancelled tomorrow, there would be little lost on a technological level. Many of the inconveniences stemming from the cancellation of HP would not be applicable. They even have a wired option (although not out of the box) . And let's not forget they are stereo with no extra purchases necessary. :-) 

    The AP Max are more of an 'edge' device. Just getting sound into your ears - at a basic level. That's what most people will buy them for and be happy with (price, case, sound quality excepted, depending on the user).

    The HP should have been more of an integrated experience but it lacked the flexibility that would have made it a better buy. 
  • Reply 9 of 13
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,103member
    Sorry guys these replies are dumb. Just because the 3 year old HomePod is being discontinued doesn’t mean Apple is tossing the line aside. It’s about time for an upgrade. Hopefully HomePod 2 will be revealed this month.

    With that said, NO AirPods Max are not too expensive. They’re really cheap compared to headphones in that market. The same people who claim they’re “too expensive” also say they’re crap because they’re not as good as $1,000 Seinnheisers with zero tech features. 


    Kuyangkoh said:
    avon b7 said:
    I can't see an issue here. AP Max were never going to be a mass market product. They will sell enough to be profitable for a while. The price will come down a little and the case will get a vast improvement in the next version. They will be profitable for a little longer. 

    They aren't a 'must have' by any stretch of the imagination so fall into Mac Pro 'wheels' category. Something that is there if you think you need it and are happy with the price. 


    Whatah.....im so happy w my two stereo Homepod yet it was cancelled/discontinued ....mad mad mad

    What do you mean “cancelled”? Did they stop working? Did Apple take them from your home?

    Other products Apple discontinued:

    iPhones
    iPads
    The Apple
    All original Macs
    Apple TV
    Apple Watch


  • Reply 10 of 13

    expected to sell fewer than 1 million units 

  • Reply 11 of 13
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 650member
    Beats said:

    With that said, NO AirPods Max are not too expensive. They’re really cheap compared to headphones in that market. The same people who claim they’re “too expensive” also say they’re crap because they’re not as good as $1,000 Seinnheisers with zero tech features. 

    Seinnheisers cost $1000 because they sound very good. Many reviews said the Max only sounds not too bad. And a Sony with equivalent function and sound only cost $300, which is a lot cheaper and comes with a functional case. 
  • Reply 12 of 13
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,112member
    Hope it doesn't get the Homepod treatment. It's cool, keep going. Keep iterating on it, reducing the price where possible, make it sound as good as you can get for the price. 

    The plastic model rumored at more like the ANC twins price points would probably do a lot better too.
    edited March 16
  • Reply 13 of 13
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,610member
    Beats said:
    Sorry guys these replies are dumb. Just because the 3 year old HomePod is being discontinued doesn’t mean Apple is tossing the line aside. It’s about time for an upgrade. Hopefully HomePod 2 will be revealed this month.

    With that said, NO AirPods Max are not too expensive. They’re really cheap compared to headphones in that market. The same people who claim they’re “too expensive” also say they’re crap because they’re not as good as $1,000 Seinnheisers with zero tech features. 


    Kuyangkoh said:
    avon b7 said:
    I can't see an issue here. AP Max were never going to be a mass market product. They will sell enough to be profitable for a while. The price will come down a little and the case will get a vast improvement in the next version. They will be profitable for a little longer. 

    They aren't a 'must have' by any stretch of the imagination so fall into Mac Pro 'wheels' category. Something that is there if you think you need it and are happy with the price. 


    Whatah.....im so happy w my two stereo Homepod yet it was cancelled/discontinued ....mad mad mad

    What do you mean “cancelled”? Did they stop working? Did Apple take them from your home?

    Other products Apple discontinued:

    iPhones
    iPads
    The Apple
    All original Macs
    Apple TV
    Apple Watch


    This is actually a rather over used trope. I have several of these devices here, and no -they actually don't work like they did when I brought them home. Several iMacs can't be updated, and I have no idea what security holes Apple is no longer patching in the long ago abandoned OS. I have a mac mini that no longer will run Safari (or any browser.) The batteries are long dead in others, and are designed so I can't replace them. Apple products are specifically designed for planned obsolescence. To some extent, with some things (including some Apple products) I'm OK with that. Others (like these audio products) less so. 

    AirPods Max are too expensive...for me. YMMV. The same was true about the original HomePod. I would have been willing to take a second look at AirPods Max had they had a headband that was adjustable to behind (as opposed to over) my head. The use case for me is outdoors with a hat, so the design was a non-start for me; and very much so at that price. Call me at $100.
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