Global shipments of wearable devices totaled 84.5 million units in the third quarter of 2019 (3Q19), a year-over-year increase of 94.6% and a new record for shipments in a single quarter, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Most of the growth in demand for wearables was driven by new products in the hearables market. Hearables alone accounted for almost half the market in 3Q19, followed by wrist bands and smartwatches.
“Hearables have become the new go-to product for the wearables market,” pointed out Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team. “This began with multiple vendors removing the headphone jack from their smartphones, driving the move toward wireless headphones. It continued with hearables incorporating additional features that either augment or expand the audio experience. Next, hearables have taken on multiple form factors – ranging from truly wireless to over-the-ear headphones – appealing to a broad base of earwear user preferences. Finally, prices have come down significantly, with some reaching below $20.”
“The rise of smart assistants in the home and on the phone has led to an increased demand for wearables that have the ability to connect with these assistants,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “With multiple form factors and the inclusion of smart assistants, the wearables market is well on its way to becoming a mass market device category rather than one that primarily caters to health and fitness.”
Wearables Company Highlights
Apple captured the top position thanks to the growing popularity of the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones. Looking ahead, the price reduction on the Series 3 Watch as well as the launch of AirPods Pro leaves Apple in a strong position to maintain dominance in this market for the short term.
Xiaomi‘s popular Mi Band lineup shipped more than 10 million units during the quarter and the company was able to significantly expand its global reach by targeting countries in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.
Samsung‘s new watches and hearables (both self-branded as well as JBL-branded) captured 9.8% of the market. To date, the company has been able to successfully bundle its smartwatches and Galaxy buds with its smartphones and this strategy has paid off as many carriers around the world helped promote Samsung’s lineup.
Despite political challenges, Huawei ranked fourth globally thanks to a strong performance in its home country of China. Within its borders, Huawei grew 188% year over year, making it one of the fastest growing companies in China. In the rest of the world, Huawei maintained strong growth though shipment volume was much lower as roughly 80% of its shipments were concentrated in China.
Fitbit rounded out the top five and the company’s latest wearables and watches have been well received though it still struggled to grow during the quarter. The latest news regarding its acquisition by Google fills the brand’s future with uncertainty.
Top 5 Wearables Companies by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2019 (shipments in millions)
Product Category Highlights
Earwear posted the highest year-over-year growth and amassed the most market share compared to all other wearable products. While the 3Q19 results established a new record for a quarter, it also set up 4Q19 with a strong foundation from which to build.
Wristbands maintained their popularity within the market, ahead of smartwatches and other wearable devices, driven by its straightforward value proposition and lower price points. On top of this is the increased functionality that allow some wristbands to mimic the capabilities of their smartwatch cousins, keeping them relevant in the market.
Smartwatches tracked closely to, but finished slightly behind, wristbands during a quarter in which many companies relied on older models while customers eagerly awaited new models heading into 4Q19. Still, with significant markdowns available, price-sensitive customers took advantage of the lower prices for devices capable of many, if not most, of the features of its newer cousins.
Worldwide Wearables Market by Product Category Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2019 (shipments in millions)
Source: International Data Corporation
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in December 2015:
Mixing Apple Watches that start at $349 [now $199 for Series 3] with fitness bands that you can get for under $20 (Xiaomi Mi Band) is a goofy way to measure unit share.
It’s like including golf cart makers in with automakers and calling it “worldwide vehicle share.” It’s technically correct, but utterly meaningless.