Industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple’s AirPods will become a more important part of the company’s health ecosystem, due to the potential they hold for health tracking. The analyst also suggests that the iPhone maker will be facing competition in the wireless audio accessories marketplace from Amazon and Google.
In a note from TF International Securities seen by AppleInsider, Kuo writes “the AirPods are more than just earbuds for Apple and will become increasingly important” to the company. Users investing in AirPods is said to “increase the switching costs for users to Android from the iOS ecosystem,” as while they can be used on Android devices, they’re really meant for use on iPhones.
AirPods also have the potential to allow summoning Siri and other personal services without the need to raise a hand to the accessory or to view the screen of the main device, such as an iPhone.
Kuo also notes the ear is a “perfect sensing area for detecting various health data,” something Apple is looking into based on the various patents and applications that have surfaced featuring wireless earbuds with built-in biometric sensors. “It may integrate with the Apple Watch to offer better health management in the future,” Kuo adds.
Kuo earlier this year predicted Apple will release a new version of the AirPods with “wireless charging support” and upgraded Bluetooth in the first quarter of 2019. Kuo says 2020 will see an even more improved model of AirPods.
While any type of fitness tracking features for AirPods would be well-received by users, Kuo warns Apple will be facing heavy competition in the field from Amazon and Google, who are said to be working on their own earphones.
Google and Amazon are thought to be the main competitors in the field due to Google being the “most influential brand in the Android ecosystem,” while Amazon has “the best voice assistant service” according to the analyst. The Amazon and Google versions of AirPods are tipped to ship in the second half of 2019, with combined shipments of between 10 million and 20 million units.
Despite any potential competition, Kuo predicts AirPods shipments will tally in at up to 55 million units in 2019, 80 million by 2020, and up to 110 million of Apple’s wireless earpods shipped by 2021.