Although 2020 was a challenging year with the pandemic and a global economic crisis, the wearable and hearable market had quite a moment.
The latest data from research firm IDC shows that the wearables market grew over 27 per cent year-over-year in Q4, to 153.5 million units in shipments.
And for the whole of 2020, the market grew 28.4% to 444.7 million units.
Apple continued its market dominance in the fourth quarter with a 36.2% share. The Apple Watch’s shipments were up by nearly half in Q4, tied to the launch of three models last year – Series 6, Watch SE, Series 3 – at different price points. Its hearable shipments surged YoY as well in Q4.
The data is included in the IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report. It notes that despite the shift in consumer spending last year sparked by the global economic crisis, the wearables market benefited from consumer focus on health and fitness.
“In-home fitness programs are quickly becoming a crucial component of the wearables offering for many companies. Beyond that, the proliferation of health sensors such as skin temperature, ECG, and heart rate tracking are allowing users and health professionals to better understand the onset and tracking of diseases,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.
The uptick trend didn’t happen for everyone – and to all product categories – though. Some companies were affected negatively by the global semiconductor shortage. Wristbands were the most affected products with a nearly 18 per cent decline in shipments in Q4.
2020 was, however, a year for hearable devices – true wireless earbuds, headphones and whatnot – with a 64.2% share of total wearable shipments.
Hearables came in handy, says Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team, providing users with a degree of privacy at home while everyone’s was staying inside and even out in the public
He says the market was supported by a shifting competitive landscape, new form factors, and trickling down of headlining features like active noise cancellation and voice assistant support.
Q4 2020 Wearables Market Overview
The massive growth of hearables helped Xiaomi claim second-place, with 5 per cent growth in 2020 despite a double-digit decline in shipments of popular Mi Band fitness devices occasioned by supply challenges.
Samsung and Huawei came in at the third and fourth spots with 20 and 7 per cent YoY growth, respectively.