Apple is set to begin a small-scale AirPods trial production run in Vietnam, as the Cupertino firm seeks to reduce its production reliance on China.
A New report by Nikkei Asian Review says China’s GoerTek, one of Apple’s key contract manufacturers, will begin testing production of the popular wireless earbuds later this summer. The report’s “sources with knowledge of the plan” says the test run will take place at GoerTek’s audi factory in northern Vietnam.
The trial run will mark the first time that AirPods have been produced outside Chinese borders. Apple has asked suppliers to support the trial run, despite only giving the okay for a small production run.
Until now, AirPods have been produced exclusively in China by Inventec, Luxshare-ICT, and GoerTek. The report indicates Apple is seeking to source 15-30% of its output outside of China. The impetus for the move is related to the fading of cost and manpower advantages in China.
Multiple recent rumors claim Apple will release third-generation water-resistant AirPods in late 2019. Apple’s current model do not boast IP-rated water or dust resistance.
Well-respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will release two new models of AirPods. One model is expected to offer an all-new form-factor at a higher price. The second model is expected to offer the same design as the Apple’s current earbuds at the same price.
Apple is said to be mulling a possible external design shift in manufacturing, shifting to a new SiP design to improve assembly yields, save internal space, and cut costs.
Kuo says the new models could lead to Apple’s selling 52 million units in 2019, and 75 million to 85 million units in 2020.