Kuo: iPhone 12 May Not Come With EarPods in the Box, Apple to Introduce AirPods Promotion in Second Half of 2020
Apple's upcoming "iPhone 12" may not come with EarPods included in the box, as a means of driving demand for the company's popular wireless AirPods which are sold separately, according to reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Apple has included earbuds with the iPhone ever since the first model of the smartphone launched in 2007, in large part because the iPhone was pitched as a natural extension of the iPod – a music player that also made phone calls.
However, in a TF International Securities research note issued to investors today and seen by MacRumors, Kuo said he expects Apple to leave out the traditional wired earphones that come with iPhones, which will usher in strong demand for AirPods shipments this year.
In addition to the need for new iPhone users to supply their own earphones, Kuo expects an uptick in AirPods shipments to be driven by an end to AirPods inventory depletion by the second half of the year, coupled with the likelihood that Apple will offer a special AirPods promotion in late 2020.
In terms of this year, Kuo said that AirPods shipments are likely to be at their lowest ebb in the second quarter due to the impact of the global health crisis, with total shipments declining by 29 percent from the previous quarter to 17.2 million.
However, AirPods shipments will benefit from increasing demand beginning in the third quarter, coupled with continuing strong demand for AirPods Pro throughout the year buoyed by Apple's expected promotional offer in the second half of 2020. Overall, Kuo predicts shipments to grow from his original estimate of 80-90 million pairs to 93.8 million pairs.
In a previous note to investors, Kuo said Apple is working on third-generation AirPods that will go into mass production during the first half of 2021, although this new model will only have internal changes and there won't be a change in external design.
This information goes against rumors of an AirPods update coming in 2020, and Kuo suggests no new AirPods are coming until 2021. By contrast, leaker Jon Prosser recently said that third-generation AirPods are ready to launch anytime.
Kuo acknowledges that the market is expecting a new AirPods model in the second half of 2020, but he thinks this is more likely to be a new set of Beats instead of a new set of AirPods, meaning "AirPods Pro Lite" rumors are actually referencing new headphones in the Beats lineup.