Updated AirPods with wireless charging case expected in early 2019, redesign coming in late 2020
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has updated his predictions for Apple wireless earbud line, with a relatively minor upgrade expected in the next six months, and a more pronounced revision with design changes launching before the end of 2020.
In a note seen by AppleInsider, Ming-Chi Kuo is expecting AirPods with "wireless charging support" and a Bluetooth spec upgrade likely to Bluetooth 5.0 and possibly a revised W-series chip to ship in the first calendar quarter of 2019. This may be nothing more than the already-announced Wireless AirPods Charging case, though. Kuo said nothing in the note about the AirPower mat, still yet to be released after being shown off by Apple brass over a year ago.
More time is spent on the 2020 upgrade in the note, however. That revision will have an unspecified "all-new design," with Apple's intent for the release said to push replacement of the first generation of the product.
Also expected by Kuo is a nebulous "innovative user experience" from them, and a "high integration with iOS and Mac products."
Kuo appears to have unrealistic growth estimates for AirPods, though. While the estimates for about 16 million and 28 million AirPods sold in 2017 and 2018 seem reasonable, predictions of 55 million, 80 million, and 110 million units units sold in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively seem overly optimistic at first glance, despite Kuo expecting a larger push towards AirPods than iPhone upgrades.
Kuo was one of the first to get details about the AirPods correct, but he has missed the ball a few times on AirPods, however. Notably, at the tail-end of 2017, Kuo was expecting an improved model to debut in the second half of 2018, which has not materialized.