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Apple's AirPods a smash hit, shipments could reach 28M in 2018

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Declaring AirPods "the most important accessory in Apple's wireless ecosystem," analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes the company could ship between 26 million and 28 million units of the completely wireless headphones next year.

Those sales, according to the KGI Securities analyst, would represent 100 percent year over year growth. The predictions were made in a note issued to investors on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider.

AirPods shipped in late 2016, but Apple has struggled to keep up with demand for much of their availability. That has changed in recent months, with an improved assembly process and increased capacity from adding a second manufacturer.

While Inventec used to be the sole supplier of AirPods, Luxshare-ICT has reportedly joined the mix recently. As a result, he sees Luxshare-ICT potentially edging its way into Apple's HomePod supply chain as well.

The $159 AirPods include Apple's custom W1 wireless chip, which allows easy pairing across a range of devices signed into the same iCloud account. The accessory is expected to soon be enhanced by a wireless charging case that will be compatible with Apple's AirPower charging mat.