Global shipments of wearable devices grew 29.7% in the first quarter with much of the growth coming from wristbands and earwear/hearables, according to a new report from International Data Corp (IDC).
Much of the growth was fueled by new product launches such as the Fitbit Charge 4 as well as price points from mainstays like Xiaomi and Huawei. The wristband category grew 16.2% during the quarter and hearables grew 68.3% and accounted for 54.9% of the entire market.
"The hearables category was seemingly resilient to the market-suppressing forces caused by COVID-19," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "Consumers were clamoring for these sophisticated earpieces not only for the ability to playback audio but also to help them increase productivity, as many of them were forced to work from home and sought ways to reduce surrounding noise while staying connected to their smartphones and smart assistants."
IDC said the outbreak of COVID-19 has had adverse effects on the supply of smart and basic watches with many of these devices sharing components and resources with smartphones and PCs. When the outbreak hit, the supply chain drought that resulted impacted these markets, causing problems for markets that share those components as well.
However, a few vendors managed healthy growth because of a lesser reliance on markets in China and expansion into the U.S., Europe and other parts of Asia. These vendors include Huawei, Garmin and Huami.
"The downward pressure on watches shifts the onus to the latter half of 2020," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables Team. "This gives companies the time to refine their products and messaging, and to align those with customer needs. Given the hyper focus on overall health and fitness in today's climate, vendors would do well to highlight those capabilities, and provide guidance on how to live healthier lives."
Apple was the top wearables company again with 29.3% of the market and shipping 21.2 million units. Apple Watch shipments declined due to supply chain difficulties, but the Beats and Airpods lineup made up for this negative growth to offset it.
In second place was Xiaomi, which shipped 7.3 million wristbands and watches. Third was Samsung with a reliance on hearables/earwear business that accounted for 74% of its total shipments, up from 58.9% in the first quarter from last year. Huawei was fourth and managed decent growth despite the COVID-19 lockdown and Fitbit, which declined 26.1% in the quarter after facing supply chain issues, still came in fifth.
Learn more about the IDC’s findings with its Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.