Apple cuts AirPods production by over a quarter

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited April 28
Weakening demand for AirPods has reportedly meant Apple cutting 25% to 30% of its AirPods production for 2021.

AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro


As the forthcoming "AirPods 3" release is now not expected until Q3 2021, sales of the current models appear to be waning. Industry sources say that Apple had forecast producing 110 million AirPods over 2021, but is now revising that down to between 75 million and 85 million.

According to Nikkei Asia, the decrease is due to intensifying competition in the wireless earbuds market. The publication has no breakdown of any differences across AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.

"The levels of inventory [in warehouses] and in-store stocks of AirPods are currently high... and demand is not as strong as expected," an unnamed source told Nikkei Asia. "The most significant order reduction is for the second quarter toward the start of the third quarter."

Reportedly, one reason for high levels of AirPods in stock is that sales also fell short of expectations in 2020. Apple is believed to have ordered between 80 million and 90 million AirPods over the year, but sold only 72.8 million.

That still represented 31% of the total market for all wireless earbuds. The remainder, however, has been captured by cheaper alternatives. Apple has at times been rumored to launch an "AirPods Pro Lite" in the first half of 2021, which would presumably be a lower cost option.


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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    AirPods Pro messed up my ears. Serious reaction every time I wear them. Staff at the Apple Store said you’re not supposed to wash the tips. It’s the new “you’re holding it wrong” but worse.

    I ended up buying memory foam tips which I hate — and by then it was too late, my ears have now become too sensitive to wear them at all.
    Beats
  • Reply 2 of 25
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,876member
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    The_New_tontonMplsPflyingdpelijahgravnorodommuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 25
    jas99jas99 Posts: 49member
    My original versions are both still going strong. How many years of use is that? I don’t even know. 
    Temporary? You’re flat out wrong. 
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 25
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,185member
    AirPods Pro messed up my ears. Serious reaction every time I wear them. Staff at the Apple Store said you’re not supposed to wash the tips. It’s the new “you’re holding it wrong” but worse.

    I ended up buying memory foam tips which I hate — and by then it was too late, my ears have now become too sensitive to wear them at all.
    What was your expectation when taking them to the Apple store exactly? You obviously have an allergy to the material they use? Did you tell the person at the store that you washed them with something besides just plain water? It clearly states to not uses anything but a water dampened cloth to wipe them clean.


    There is no alternative material that the Apple store could have offered you, so at that point you needed to decide if you wanted to return them or continue on. This is not like your holding it wrong at all actually because there is nothing that you can do to change your reaction to the material, unlike the attenuation caused by holding the iPhone 4 a certain way? I thought the your holding it wrong comment was ridiculous and not ok when it happened just making a comparison.

    I also have sensitive ears and my Pro's cause my ears to itch after using them for a while. For the record this is an issue I have with every canal style headphone I have used. It seems like my ears get warm and then after a while i need to itch and readjust them. I am thinking I may have a silicone allergy or my ears are just react that way from a combination of outside contaminants and silicone. I am not really sure honestly.

    I have found that if I run the tips under water every few days and dry them completely the itching is not as bad or happens as fast. Although it never truly stops happening.


    MplsPravnorodom
  • Reply 5 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,763member
    jas99 said:
    My original versions are both still going strong. How many years of use is that? I don’t even know. 
    Temporary? You’re flat out wrong. 
    The batteries inside them are temporary by definition. I can't see how that can be flat out wrong. There's a chemical reaction going on which is affected by other factors such as heat, cold, usage patterns etc. Charging and use capacity is not indefinite


    The fact that the batteries inside them cannot be replaced simply makes the temporary nature of them clearer.

    It's logical that, as buyers wake up to this reality, they will become far more cautious of future purchases (especially if they are precisely cheap). 
    edited April 28 mariowincoMplsPgatorguyflyingdpelijahgcrowleychemengin1ravnorodommuthuk_vanalingamjony0
  • Reply 6 of 25
    crowley said:
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    Keep wondering. All products are temporary, even those that cost up to 100x more - incuding shoes and automobiles.

    When one of my Powerbeats Pro died after 2+ years I tried AirPods Pro. Tunrs out I find noise cancelling disorienting in pubic, prefer the ear hook and went back to Powerbeats Pro. And looking at at least half of the people at my $200/month gym, I'm not alone. Plus, since the AirPods Max came out, I only use those at home. AirPods Pro is just losing ground in the current product mix.
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    avon b7 said:
    jas99 said:
    My original versions are both still going strong. How many years of use is that? I don’t even know. 
    Temporary? You’re flat out wrong. 
    The batteries inside them are temporary by definition. I can't see how that can be flat out wrong. There's a chemical reaction going on which is affected by other factors such as heat, cold, usage patterns etc. Charging and use capacity is not indefinite


    The fact that the batteries inside them cannot be replaced simply makes the temporary nature of them clearer.

    It's logical that, as buyers wake up to this reality, they will become far more cautious of future purchases (especially if they are precisely cheap). 
    Actually my situation ... the other topic is that, at home, I do not need these (first edition).

    I’m looking for earbuds with noise cancellation AND replaceable batteries (but without a lot of enthusiasm...)
  • Reply 8 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,042member
    avon b7 said:
    jas99 said:
    My original versions are both still going strong. How many years of use is that? I don’t even know. 
    Temporary? You’re flat out wrong. 
    The batteries inside them are temporary by definition. I can't see how that can be flat out wrong. There's a chemical reaction going on which is affected by other factors such as heat, cold, usage patterns etc. Charging and use capacity is not indefinite


    The fact that the batteries inside them cannot be replaced simply makes the temporary nature of them clearer.

    It's logical that, as buyers wake up to this reality, they will become far more cautious of future purchases (especially if they are precisely cheap). 
    Everyone understands that batteries need to be replaced - finding out that they can’t be replaced at all and that your $250 headphones were made to be disposable is the real turnoff. 
    uraharamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,763member
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    jas99 said:
    My original versions are both still going strong. How many years of use is that? I don’t even know. 
    Temporary? You’re flat out wrong. 
    The batteries inside them are temporary by definition. I can't see how that can be flat out wrong. There's a chemical reaction going on which is affected by other factors such as heat, cold, usage patterns etc. Charging and use capacity is not indefinite


    The fact that the batteries inside them cannot be replaced simply makes the temporary nature of them clearer.

    It's logical that, as buyers wake up to this reality, they will become far more cautious of future purchases (especially if they are precisely cheap). 
    Everyone understands that batteries need to be replaced - finding out that they can’t be replaced at all and that your $250 headphones were made to be disposable is the real turnoff. 
    Definitely. My wife asked about my earbuds and I mentioned the Air Pods but pointing out the battery drawbackd and she refused to get them at the price Apple is charging for them. 
    edited April 28 ravnorodommuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,152member
    AirPods Pro messed up my ears. Serious reaction every time I wear them. Staff at the Apple Store said you’re not supposed to wash the tips. It’s the new “you’re holding it wrong” but worse.

    I ended up buying memory foam tips which I hate — and by then it was too late, my ears have now become too sensitive to wear them at all.
    Mine didn't fit at all well to begin with, they were painful. I persisted wearing them for progressively longer periods and now they're fine, though they still fall out occasionally.
    edited April 28
  • Reply 11 of 25
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,152member
    Falling sales doesn't surprise me, contemporary Apple always follows this same trajectory: Introduce something that's new and cool, people will pay a premium because it's unique and different, and it becomes really popular. Cheap knockoffs are produced which rarely match the Apple quality or experience - but they improve over time until they are good enough for most people. But Apple is so slow releasing new versions, the product stagnates and as Apple refuses to drop prices, sales fall instead. People have rightly become to expect technology to become cheaper over time, that can be combatted by frequent updates, but Apple's are so slow nowadays (I'm looking at you, HomePod) the lack of price drops sticks out much more. Eventually due to this the product's marketshare ends up a fraction of what it was. Happens every single time. Apple was smart with the iPod, they managed to keep high marketshare through new, cheaper offerings and reduced pricing.
    Beatsravnorodom
  • Reply 12 of 25
    I don’t think weakening demand was the issue. I think the pandemic reduced the amount of purchases drastically since there wasn’t any place you could try them because of the fear of transmission.  

    My local Apple store appears to sell the crap out of them and from what I hear most Apple stores have an “express” area where you can quickly buy them or cables and accessories. 
    It looks similar to the setup during Christmas. 
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 25
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,876member
    crowley said:
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    Keep wondering. All products are temporary, even those that cost up to 100x more - incuding shoes and automobiles.
    Shoes and automobiles can be repaired.  When the battery goes on AirPods they're plastic landfill.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,121member
    The headline states this ‘report’ as fact. Apple IS cutting production. Really? How do they know? How many times have we been treated to reports of production cuts for Apple products? Actually it’s like a religious dogma. Product comes out, product is successful, reports surface about production cuts, product is therefore failure. 

    The posts in this thread are simply bias confirmation based on some analyst’s ruminations. Someone doesn't like them so therefore the report is fact. And of course the ever reliable ‘overpriced’ bullshit.
    edited April 28 Beatstmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 25
    I guess cutting the price by half to bring the AirPods in line with the price and features of the competition was an unthinkable option? The prices were already cut 25% by Amazon (obviously with Apple's blessing).
    elijahg
  • Reply 16 of 25
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,311member
    None of this is fact. Also that 30% market share is strange. I must be seeing a lot of knockoffs. Some days I ONLY see AirPods.

    I guess cutting the price by half to bring the AirPods in line with the price and features of the competition was an unthinkable option? The prices were already cut 25% by Amazon (obviously with Apple's blessing).

    No. Dropping price is a dumb idea unless you mean keeping the old ones on the market with price drops. Not sure I like that idea either.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    I recently used thepodswap service to exchange my airpods with a refurbished pair, and am completely happy with them.  Airpods with dying batteries don't necessarily need to go to the landfill right away.  I believe thepodswap is also working on a solution for airpods pro.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    crowley said:
    crowley said:
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    Keep wondering. All products are temporary, even those that cost up to 100x more - incuding shoes and automobiles.
    Shoes and automobiles can be repaired.  When the battery goes on AirPods they're plastic landfill.
    Try that argument again in some imaginary alternate relaity where everyone has one pair of shoes and one car to last them a lifetime. We get it, you don't like non-user-replaceable batteries. No AirPods for you then. Move along...
    edited April 28 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,763member
    crowley said:
    crowley said:
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    Keep wondering. All products are temporary, even those that cost up to 100x more - incuding shoes and automobiles.
    Shoes and automobiles can be repaired.  When the battery goes on AirPods they're plastic landfill.
    Try that argument again in some imaginary alternate relaity where everyone has one pair of shoes and one car to last them a lifetime. We get it, you don't like non-user-replaceable batteries. No AirPods for you then. Move along...
    A question for you.

    If legislation were passed to ban the production of true wireless earbuds without user replaceable batteries, do you think that particular market segment would wither and die as a result?

    Or would manufacturers redesign them to make batteries replaceable? 
    muthuk_vanalingamMplsPbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 20 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,042member
    crowley said:
    crowley said:
    I wonder if people will stop buying them as the batteries start wearing out of the original purchases and the realisation sets in of how temporary they are.
    Keep wondering. All products are temporary, even those that cost up to 100x more - incuding shoes and automobiles.
    Shoes and automobiles can be repaired.  When the battery goes on AirPods they're plastic landfill.
    Try that argument again in some imaginary alternate relaity where everyone has one pair of shoes and one car to last them a lifetime. We get it, you don't like non-user-replaceable batteries. No AirPods for you then. Move along...
    Huge eyeroll - most people can distinguish between something that is physically worn out from use vs something that just needs a new battery. If you can’t then you’re either a shill or even more obtuse than your posts let on. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
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