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Apple could ship 100 percent more AirPods next year

Apple is predicted to ship 26M-28M AirPods in 2018, according to KGI analysts.

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More people may be rocking AirPods next year.

Marta Franco/CNET

Apple may ship out twice as many of its AirPods wireless earbuds next year. In a note to investors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that AirPods shipments could reach 26 to 28 million units in 2018. This would result in a 100 percent year-over-year growth in sales from 2017, according to Kuo (via MacRumors).

Apple first unveiled its AirPods in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Since the iPhone 7 marked Apple's decision to get rid of the headphone jack, the wireless AirPods made an ideal headphone companion. And thanks to Apple's W1 chip, pairing your AirPods to your iPhone is extremely simple.

But getting your hands on a set of AirPods hasn't been easy. Initial release of the AirPods was delayed a handful of times until mid-December 2016, and even then availability struggled to keep up with demand. It wasn't until August 2017 that the Apple Store's shipping estimate for the AirPods dropped from a six-week wait to four weeks. Now Apple estimates the wait to be merely a couple of days.

Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for his reports on the Apple supply chain and making Apple predictions, claims that the improved delivery times are the result of Apple adding another AirPods assembler. Previously AirPods were only manufactured by Inventec but now a manufacturer called Luxshare was added to the list. The result is predicted to be a big uptick in AirPods availability next year.

Apple's AirPods may be just as relevant in 2018 as they were in 2016. This is because Apple now makes five different iPhones that don't have a headphone jack -- the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, along with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Unless Apple backpedals and reintroduces the headphone jack, that list could get even longer.

The AirPods are also getting an upgrade in the future. Apple is planning to release a new wireless charging case for the AirPods, but hasn't announced an official release date. The charging case was unveiled in September alongside Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat, but that hasn't received an exact release date either.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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