Earwear and Wristbands Drive First Quarter Growth in the Worldwide Wearables Market, Says IDC

Global shipments of wearable devices grew 29.7% year over year during the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20) as total device volume reached 72.6 million units according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. However, the growth was disproportionately spread across the various form factors as growth in wristbands and earwear/hearables was more than enough to offset the decline from smart and basic watches.

Fueled by new product launches such as the Fitbit Charge 4 as well as aggressive price points from mainstays like Xiaomi and Huawei, the wristband category grew 16.2% during the quarter. Meanwhile, 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 clamouring 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."

The spread of COVID-19 also had adverse effects on the supply of smart and basic watches as many of these devices share components and resources with smartphones and PCs, which were also impacted during the first quarter of 2020. Despite the decline, a few vendors, such as Huawei, Garmin, and Huami, managed healthy growth thanks to lesser reliance on markets in China and further expansion into the United States, Europe, and other parts of Asia.

"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."

1Q20 Wearables Company Highlights

Apple was once again the top wearables company with 29.3% share and 21.2 million units. While Apple Watch shipments declined due to difficulties in the supply chain, the strength of the Beats and Airpods lineup was more than enough to offset the negative growth.

In second place was Xiaomi, which shipped 7.3 million wristbands and watches. The company's expansion outside China combined with a shift in distribution from etailers to online and offline retailers has allowed the company to build a comfortable lead over most other brands.

Samsung ranked third as its hearables/earwear business accounted for 74% of its total shipments during the quarter, up from 58.9% in 1Q19. The latest generation of Galaxy Buds and Buds+ have been very well received as the two models shipped over 4 million units during the quarter.

Huawei and its subsidiary Honor captured fourth place and even managed to grow in China despite the lockdown thanks to a strong online presence and close ties with retailers. Even outside China, the company succeeded at growing in Europe, Latin America, and the other Asian markets though long-term success in these markets remains questionable due to the political pressures from multiple countries.

Fitbit declined 26.1% during the quarter as much of the company's production was based in China, which faced supply issues for multiple weeks during the quarter. While the company remains as one of the leading brands in the wearables space and still has a large user base along with promising tech, the lack of a hearable and strong competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung in key markets has suppressed the company's ability to grow.

Top 5 Wearable Device Companies by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q1 2020 (shipments in millions)

Company

1Q20 Shipments

1Q20 Market Share

1Q19 Shipments

1Q19 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Growth

Apple

21.2

29.3%

13.3

23.7%

59.9%

Xiaomi

10.1

14.0%

6.5

11.6%

56.4%

Samsung

8.6

11.9%

5.0

9.0%

71.7%

Huawei

8.1

11.1%

5.0

8.9%

62.2%

Fitbit

2.2

3.0%

2.9

5.2%

-26.1%

Others

22.3

30.8%

23.3

41.6%

-4.0%

TOTAL

72.6

100.0%

56.0

100.0%

29.7%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, May 2020

Top 5 Watch* Companies by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q1 2020 (shipments in millions)

Company

1Q20 Shipments

1Q20 Market Share

1Q19 Shipments

1Q19 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Growth

Apple

4.5

26.8%

4.6

25.4%

-2.2%

Huawei

2.6

15.2%

1.2

6.4%

118.5%

Samsung

1.8

10.8%

2.0

10.8%

-7.2%

Garmin

1.3

7.5%

1.0

5.3%

31.7%

Huami

1.0

5.8%

0.5

3.0%

80.2%

Others

5.7

33.9%

8.9

49.0%

-35.7%

TOTAL

16.9

100.0%

18.2

100.0%

-7.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, May 2020

* Note: Watch includes both Basic Watches and Smart Watches. Basic watches incorporate a microprocessor, are capable of digitally processing data, and have wireless connectivity, but do not run third-party applications. Smart watches meet all four requirements.

About IDC Trackers

IDC Tracker products provide accurate and timely market size, vendor share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than 100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research processes, IDC's Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly excel deliverables and on-line query tools. To see more of IDC's worldwide wearables market data, go to https://www.idc.com/promo/wearablevendor.

For more information about IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com.

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About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world's leading tech media, data and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit www.idc.com. Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights: http://bit.ly/IDCBlog_Subscribe.

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Contacts

Ramon Llamas
rllamas@idc.com
508-935-4736

Jitesh Ubrani
jubrani@idc.com
416-873-0315

Michael Shirer
press@idc.com
508-935-4200