Wearables market up by 31% in Q4 says IDC
Strong growth in wearable devices including ear-worn headphones sees shipments hit 59.3m
The global market for wearable devices grew by almost one third in Q4 2018, says IDC.
The market expanded to 59.3 million units shipped, a growth of 31.4%. Growth in the market was driven by new wearables launching during the months leading up to the holiday season as well as new smartphone launches as many were bundled with wearables from leading brands, the analyst company said.
Shipments for the entire year of 2018 grew by 27.5% with 172.2 million wearables shipped. Much of this growth was attributed to the growing number of ear-worn devices as they captured almost a quarter of the market during the year.
IDC has revised its definition of wearable devices to include ear-worn wireless headphones which are capable of enabling smart assistants, such as Apple's AirPods, Google's Pixel Buds, Bose's QC35II, and more.
Among the various form factors available during the quarter, smartwatches grew 55.2% compared to 4Q17 and accounted for 34.3% of the overall market during the quarter. Meanwhile, wrist bands accounted for 30% of the market as recent launches from Xiaomi, Huawei, and Fitbit continued to drive the category forward. Ear-worn devices grew 66.4% and captured 21.9% of the market.
"The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past year and we expect this to continue in the years to come," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "It is the next battleground for companies as these types of headphones become a necessity for many given the exclusion of headphone jacks from modern devices. Add to that the rise of smart assistants and in-ear biometrics and companies have the perfect formula to sell consumers on a device that's complimentary to the device ecosystem that lives on their wrist and in their pocket."
"Smartwatches, meanwhile, grew 54.3% and accounted for 29.8% of all wearable device shipments in 2018," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables. "Apple accounted for nearly half the market and followed by a long list of companies that posted double- and triple-digit growth. What resulted from this was a growing list of devices available at multiple price-points to meet the needs of a diverse market."
IDC said that Apple dominated the wearables segment, accounting for 16.2 million devices shipped in Q4, including 10.4 million Apple Watches. The Series 4 of Apple Watch has sold well, and is gaining adoption among consumers and healthcare organisations.
Xiaomi took second place, with 12.6% of the total market, as expansion into Europe and other markets outside of China pay off. Xiaomi's Mi Band 3 alone accounted for over 30% of all wrist bands shipped during the quarter.
Huawei also had a "great" quarter in the wearables and smartphone markets, IDC said, with 43% growth in smartphones and 248.5% growth in the wearables market since many of the Huawei and Honor phones were bundled with wearables. New product launches such as the Watch GT, FreeBuds 2 Pro, and a few others also helped the company gain traction.