DigiTimes may not bat 1.000 when it comes to Apple rumors, but they do know a fair amount the supply chain and devices that are in testing and development. What they don’t usually have is definitive information or context to go with these leaks and bits of information, but there is usually some amount of truth in their reports. The hard part is figuring out where that truth is.
In one such report this week, DigiTimes predicts that Apple is getting ready to produce a new “lite” version of the extremely popular AirPods Pro in Taiwan.
Apple’s lead and fast growth in wearables has been a big story in the tech world over the last few years and it just gets bigger with each successive Apple quarterly earnings report. While the original Apple Watch and AirPods were initially made fun of by critics when announced, they both have proven to be extremely popular with the buying public. The Apple Watch was a bit of a slow burn, but has ramped up to become bigger than Apple’s peak iPod business and define the smartwatch category. The AirPods, on the other hand, were an immediate smash hit, easily lapping the early wireless bud field.
The AirPods 2 that came out last Spring were welcomed at the time, but didn’t bring much change beyond Hey Siri and the potential for wireless charging. They were really designed for people who either hadn’t bought yet or, like me, had lost their originals. However, it was the AirPods Pro that came out late last year that really cemented Apple’s continued lead in wireless earbuds.
It took a long time, but the wireless bud field finally caught up to Apple and products that passed up the AirPods in both features and price were hitting the market last year. The AirPods Pro was the perfect answer from Apple. They deliver better sound quality and very good active noise cancellation at a competitive price. The addition of multiple earbud tips is also a big improvement for those who had fit issues with the original AirPods. They proved to be one of the gift items of the 2019 Holiday season and sold completely out of stock for weeks at a time.
While the AirPods are still the right choice for some buyers, many more are going to prefer the new look and basic feature set of the AirPods Pro. If Apple delivers a less expensive version that packs the same look and essential features for the same price as the AirPods, that could help them find an entirely new sales gear. For example, if Apple were to make a new version of the AirPods Pro without noise cancellation and with the option for a case that doesn’t wirelessly charge for between $159 and $189, it would sell like CRAZY.
I’m often skeptical of Apple supply chain rumors like this one, but it sounds so good that I can’t help but think it’s going to happen. Based on the success of the AirPods Pro, a lite version sounds like a sure-fire grand slam. Think about it. For some people, looking like you have the latest thing is as good as having the latest thing, which is the biggest argument against getting a less expensive set of AirPods with the older design. A less expensive version of the Pros with the same design will bring these buyers in droves. I also have to believe that Apple is going to be looking for ways to expand their reach in wearbles to stay ahead of the market and this one is just too easy.
All we know from DigiTimes right now is that this product may be on-tap for sometime in 2020. Considering that this is the first we are hearing of an AirPods Pro Lite, it will likely be slated for later in the year, assuming the rumor is real. We already have a lot of reports on the iPhone SE 2/9, possible iPad Pros and a set of Apple-branded headphones that should be coming within the next one to four months, so I think Apple is likely set there. Also, considering that the current AirPods Pro have only been out for a few months and still have a lot of legs left, as well as how well AirPods always sell around the Holidays, I look for a late Fall release to take advantage.