Global shipments of wearable devices totaled 84.5 million units in the third quarter of 2019, representing 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 was driven by hearables, which alone accounted for almost half the market in the quarter, followed by wrist bands and smartwatches.
“Hearables have become the new go-to product for the wearables market,” Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team, said in a statement. “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.”
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 kept the second spot due to its popular Mi Band lineup, which shipped more than 10 million units during the quarter. The company was able to significantly expand its global reach by targeting countries in Europe, the 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.
Huawei ranked fourth despite political challenges. Within China, the company grew 188% year over year, making it one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. 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.
Category-wise, earwear posted the highest year-over-year growth and amassed the most market share compared to all other wearable products. While the Q3 2019 results established a new record for a quarter, it also set up Q4 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 allows some wristbands to mimic the capabilities of their smartwatch cousins, keeping them relevant in the market.
Finally, smartwatches finished slightly behind, with customers eagerly awaiting new models heading into the fourth quarter. 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.