Global wearable device shipments see 55% increase

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Huawei tripled its wearables sales.
Huawei tripled its wearables sales.

Global shipments of wearable devices reached 49.6 million units during the first quarter, led by increasing demand of wrist-worn wearables and ear-worn devices.

This is according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDCs) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, which notes global shipments of wearable devices in the quarter increased by 55% from the previous year.

While wrist-worn wearables accounted for the majority of the market, with a 63% share, ear-worn devices experienced the fastest growth (135.1% year-over-year) and accounted for 35% of all wearables shipped.

Apple took the lead, pushed by its various wearable offerings, including Apple Watch, AirPods and Beats headphones.

Xiaomi ranked second, largely due to the popularity of its Mi Band, which accounted for roughly five million shipments.

In third place was Huawei, which ended the quarter with market-beating growth of 282.2%, according to IDC.

Fourth was Samsung, as the Galaxy S10 line-up helped the company propel its wearables business through the use of bundling.

Fitbit rounded out the top five. The Versa Lite and Inspire series helped the company reach new users as well as encourage upgrades, although this came at the expense of a lower average selling price.

"The elimination of headphone jacks and the increased usage of smart assistants both inside and outside the home have been driving factors in the growth of ear-worn wearables," says Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"Looking ahead, this will become an increasingly important category, as major platform and device-makers use ear-worn devices as an on-ramp to entice consumers into an ecosystem of wearable devices that complement the smartphone but also offer the ability to leave the phone behind when necessary."

Shipments of wrist wear grew 31.6% year-over-year, and continue to dominate the wearables landscape, notes IDC.

Ramon T Llamas, research director for wearables at IDC, notes: "While the functionalities and capabilities have grown and changed, the one common thread is the relentless focus on health and fitness. This has resonated strongly with users and health insurance companies alike, and new health and fitness insights attract a larger audience."

In November, research firm Gartner forecast that worldwide shipments of wearable devices will reach 225 million units in 2019, an increase of 26% from 2018.

According to Gartner, this year, 74 million smartwatches will be shipped, making smartwatches the top segment of all wearable device form factors.

The firm also predicts that by 2022, ear-worn devices shipments will take over as the top wearables segment, with 158 million units shipped, compared with 115 million smartwatch shipments in 2022.

"At the moment, the smartwatch market is bolstered by the relatively stable and higher average selling price of the Apple Watch," says Alan Antin, senior director at Gartner.

"But the overall average selling price of smartwatches is expected to slowly decline from $221.99 in 2018 to $210 in 2022, due to lower-priced competitors and as higher volumes lead to reductions in manufacturing and component costs, while strong brands like Apple and traditional watch brands try to keep pricing stable."

As the smartwatch segment continues to mature, Gartner says it will subdivide into four main types of providers: leading consumer electronics brands, fashion and traditional watch brands, children's watches, as well as special-purpose brands and start-ups that cater to niche audiences such as people with medical issues that need to be monitored.

According to Market Research Engine, the global wearable devices market is expected to exceed more than $67 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 15.5%, driven by use-cases across a wide spectrum of sectors, such as fitness and sports, infotainment, healthcare, defence, enterprise and industrial.

“The major driving factors of the global wearable devices market include: customer preference for sophisticated devices, increasing popularity of Internet of things and related devices, and firms heavily investing in research and development to devise optimum solutions,” notes the firm.
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