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'AirPods Pro 2' to debut in 2022, Kuo says

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Apple is expected to launch a successor to its popular AirPods Pro headphone sometime in 2022, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a note to investors on Wednesday, Kuo predicts a 2022 launch for a so-called "AirPods Pro 2" device, in line with recent rumblings.

"Even without the innovative experience of AirPods Pro 2 in 2022, Apple's total TWS device shipment will be back to more than 100 million in 2022," Kuo writes.

The analyst is revising down his AirPods shipment forecast to 70 million to 75 million units due to lower than expected demand for the product seen in the second quarter of 2021. Apple continues to dominate the wireless headphone space, but competitors are chipping away at that lead.

Looking ahead, Kuo believes the AirPods platform holds a competitive advantage in its ability to grow through ecosystem enhancements like Siri or through new "innovative AirPods experience[s]" such as health monitoring. Apple is rumored to be integrating more advanced motion sensors in its top-of-the-line audio wearable, and the company could one day go further with biometric technology.

Kuo goes on to say that Apple's dual-brand strategy will be increasingly important as it looks to capture the eye of Android users.

"AirPods are higher priced, target Apple device users, and aim to provide innovation and eco-experience to increase added value," Kuo says. "Beats are lower-priced, target Apple and non-Apple device users, and increase shipments or market share."

The latest Beats device, the recently released Beats Studio Buds, uses a 22nm MediaTek chip instead of Apple's own H1 silicon. This provides a few benefits including shorter development timelines, lower costs, and differentiation from AirPods, Kuo contends.

If Beats Studio Buds perform well, Apple could lean more heavily on MediaTek solutions over its own chips for future Beats products, Kuo says.

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