The number of wearable devices shipped worldwide increased 9.9% in the third quarter of 2021 (Q3 of 21) to 138.4 million units. Audiology drove growth. The category grew 26.5% year over year and accounted for 64.7% of wearable device shipments. Tracking wearables on the wrist is the category most associated with health and fitness tracking, capturing 34.7% of the market.
That’s according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracking Report. While the pandemic has fueled interest in health and fitness tracking, wearables such as watches and wristbands have faced challenges during the quarter. Thus, these devices were not immune to supply constraints and changing demand caused by the pandemic. Although this category was held by cheap Xiaomi teams until recently, Apple and Huawei ditched the company in 3Q21.
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“Demand is slowly shifting from wristbands to watches as consumers increasingly want a device with more features and narrowing price differentials,” said Jitesh Ubrani, director of research at IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “The number of watches sold for less than $100 now equals the bracelets, which dominated this price range in the past. The growth of Indian and Chinese brands has reduced the watch space, while Apple, Huawei and Samsung have taken over .sticking higher.”
“While the entire wearables market shrank year-over-year, the watch market grew by 4.3%,” said Ramon T. Llamas, Research Director of IDC’s Wearable Devices team. “And while smartwatches (devices that can run third-party apps) are very popular, it is other watches — including kids’ watches, sports watches, hybrid watches, etc. — that have driven the market. That doesn’t mean smartwatches are losing ground. Quite the contrary, Apple’s late release of the Watch Series 7 and the relaunch of WearOS among many hardware vendors will soon spark renewed interest.”
Apple is the market leader
Apple took the top spot in Q321 despite Apple Watch shipments dropping 35.3% during the quarter. Hearing devices such as AirPods and Beats give the company a leading position in the wearable market. However, these products have also faced challenges in recent quarters as competition remains strong in the audio sector. However, IDC still describes Apple’s enviable position with a market share of over 53%.
Samsung’s recent launch of the Galaxy Watch 4 series was well received and represents an important step forward for the watchmaker and Google, thanks to Tizen’s move to Wear OS. Not only has Samsung focused on growing its wearables business by bundling its audio devices, watches, and bands with smartphones, but the company is also trying to get some of its fashion spending by launching custom-made products, and watches.
Xiaomi sees a decrease in market share
Xiaomi’s shipments fell 23.8% during the quarter as the company’s reliance on bracelets and consumer preference for watches waned. The company started switching from bracelets to watches. Xiaomi has also continued to expand outside of China, although these efforts also rely heavily on the success of the smartphone business in international markets. In audio, the company has stayed true to its brand by offering very cheap but high quality options.
Huawei was able to grow with the help of its audio business, with sales of bracelets and watches down a combined 5% in the quarter. Audio is generally cross-brand compatible and this open nature has helped Huawei thrive in an environment where it faces political headwinds.
Imagine Marketing in the Top 5
Imagine Marketing, the Indian company behind the BoAt brand, has once again made its way into the global top 5. IDC says continuous marketing and low-cost products have increased their scale. In recent quarters, the company has also launched watches, which now account for 10% of its shipments.
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