Hearables are becoming an important part of the overall market for wearables. In the fourth quarter of 2019, hearables captured 55.3% of the entire market, which helped the market grow tremendously during the quarter, according to a new report from International Data Corp (IDC).
The worldwide market for wearable devices grew 82.3% in the fourth quarter, reaching 118.9 million devices shipped.
According to IDC, smartwatches also did very well during the quarter with 15.3% growth and wrist bands grew 17.7% during the quarter. Wrist-worn devices captured 43.8% of the total market, down from 68.6%.
In 2019, vendors shipped a total of 336.5 million wearable devices worldwide, an 89.0% increase from the 178.0 million units shipped in 2018.
"2019 marked a strong step forward for the worldwide wearables market," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's wearables team. "Hearables were the big story due to new product introductions and more smartphones cutting the cord with traditional earphones, practically driving users to purchase a hearable. Not to be overshadowed were smartwatches and fitness trackers, which both posted record annual volumes from an abundance of lower-cost models."
IDC said the wearables market is going through a period where companies such as Apple and Samsung are putting tremendous pressure on the rest of the market. However, there is innovation and differentiation among smaller brands that will allow these companies to carry on despite getting a smaller piece of the action, the market research firm said.
Apple led the market with 43.4 million units shipped in the fourth quarter of 2019 thanks to its refreshed AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Apple Watch as well as its Beats products, spanning multiple price points. However, as the company's products did well overall during the quarter, Apple Watch shipments declined 5.2% year over year as the company experienced supply shortages.
Xiaomi finished second in the fourth quarter, shipping 12.8 million wearables, of which 73.3% were wristbands. Samsung finished in third place thanks to a portfolio of products including JBL and Infinity. The Galaxy Active and Active 2 smartwatches were a success during the quarter, driving volumes of wearables through bundles with its smartphones.
Huawei grew its wearable device shipments 63.4% in the fourth quarter with wristbands accounting for most of the shipment volume but also added several new hearables to its portfolio. Fitbit ended up in fifth place and saw its shipments rebound for the first time following two consecutive years of declining volume.