So far this week, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had already announced new iPads on Monday and an iMac refresh yesterday. The company is following up with its third hardware announcement in three days, and it wasn't a new iPod Touch (as had been previously rumored). Instead, Apple has refreshed its wildly popular AirPods, adding several key new features -- including one that was promised a long time ago.
However, there's still no sign of the mythical AirPower wireless charging mat.
Image source: Apple.
Better late than never
At its fall 2017 event, Apple had announced AirPower and said it would soon be releasing a wireless charging case for AirPods. Fast-forward a year and a half, and the tech giant is at least delivering on one of those promises. The second-generation AirPods look identical and boast longer battery life, hands-free "Hey Siri," and an optional wireless charging case. Rumors that Apple would introduce a black color option didn't materialize.
The wireless headphones are also powered by a brand-new Apple-designed chip: the H1, which the company says is designed specifically for headphones. The H1 replaces the Apple-designed W1 that handled wireless connections in the first-generation AirPods, and facilitates faster switching between devices and faster connection times while improving power efficiency.
The new AirPods have the same $160 price point but buying the optional wireless charging case bumps the cost up to $200. Customers that already own first-generation AirPods and want to purchase the wireless charging case separately will have to fork over $80. The wireless charging case supports the industry-standard Qi interface, much like other Apple products that support wireless charging.
Image source: Apple.
While there was no word regarding AirPower, that product has reportedly been approved for mass production, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Wearables revenue is approaching $15 billion
Wearables has become an important business segment for Apple. The tech titan vaguely says it's approaching the size of a Fortune 200 company. That means wearables revenue is closing in on approximately $15 billion on a trailing-12-month (TTM) basis.
Apple has never disclosed unit volumes for either Apple Watch or AirPods -- and has stopped sharing unit sales data of any kind -- but IDC estimates that the company shipped 16.2 million wearables in the fourth quarter, composed of an estimated 10.4 million Apple Watches and 5.8 million ear-worn wearables such as AirPods and some models of wireless Beats headphones. Earwear is also expected to be the second-largest category of wearables this year by unit volumes, according to IDC.
Once upon a time, Apple would have hosted a product event if it had three hardware announcements to share. But these days, the company cares more about showcasing its services business, and next Monday's event will likely add two new services to the mix.
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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.