Well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has made a short research note where he predicts that the new AirPods with a wireless charging case will come around in early 2019 and that they will be followed by an “all-new design model” in 2020.
“We attribute AirPods’ dramatic growth (14–16mn, 26–28mn, 50–55mn, 70–80mn and 100–110mn units in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively) to 1) the upgraded model with wireless charging support to benefit shipments to launch in 1Q19, 2) the all-new design model to boost replacement demand to launch in 1Q20, 3) an innovative user experience, and 4) high integration with iOS and Mac products. In summary, AirPods is Apple’s most popular accessory ever, and it currently has the best growth momentum among Apple products.”
– Ming-Chi Kuo
According to Kuo, the new charging case will come with component upgrades which will cost a bit more than usual to manufacture, raising its costs up to 60%, which we can expect to see reflected in the price.
The analyst also suggests that the AirPods themselves will come with Bluetooth upgrade, so it could mean that Apple is thinking about selling the case as a separate accessory for AirPods users.
As far as the possible design change goes, Kuo doesn’t give any other details, so we’ll have to patiently wait for 2019 and see if Apple teases something more.