While IDC is positive about AirPods Pro in the second have of 2020, they noted that the first half would be hit with spotty production. Today Taiwan PCB makers in the supply chain of AirPods series are worried that their shipments for Apple's True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earphones could be dented by the coronavirus pandemic and weakening consumer demand, according to industry sources.
Digitimes reports that "Suppliers of rigid-flex boards for AirPods 2, in particular, have seen weakened shipment momentum due mainly to slow production resumption at downstream assemblers with operations in China. Despite the slow shipments, the US vendor has not cut orders due for fulfillment in the first quarter of 2020, the sources said.
The sources said that amid the outbreak in China, assemblers, with limited workforce, have tended to give production priority to AirPods Pro and other higher-value Apple devices, leading to notable shipment reduction at rigid-flex board suppliers for AirPods 2 including Unitech, which has 40% of its revenues coming from such shipments.
Until the assemblers ramp up their capacity utilization to 100%, normal shipments for all AirPods series can hardly be achieved, the sources said, adding the worsening pandemic is blurring the order visibility for such devices.
Supply chain partners originally expected their order visibility to stay bright throughout at least the first half of 2020, but now the visibility will depend on second-quarter sales for AirPods devices.
Beyond AirPods 2 production, it's being reported today in a second report that "Electronics supply chain makers with operations in China are accelerating production resumption as the coronavirus epidemic there eases, and upstream components suppliers are fulfilling shipments as fast as possible to avoid any undesirable changes in product releases."