The wearable device market bounced back in the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) after a slight slump in the fourth quarter of 2020. Data from the International Data Corp. (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker saw that companies shipped a total of 104.6 million units in 1Q21, an increase of 34.4% increase from the 77.8 million units shipped in 1Q20.
Apple and Samsung are still the leaders in the market, however, IDC found most of the growth came from smaller companies double-digit market shares during the quarter, most of the growth came from smaller companies.
“Rather than compete head-to-head with products similar to the market leaders, these smaller companies have instead focused on specific markets and thrived with different solutions,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team. “For example, BoAt, the No. 5 company on our list, has succeeded by concentrating only on the Indian market and was rewarded with triple-digit growth. Another example comes from Oura, whose fitness-tracking ring caught the attention of major sports teams and consumers. These and many other companies contributed to the Others category, which posted 55.5% year-over-year growth.”
“Not only is the market being fueled by smaller brands, but newer form factors are also starting to gain some traction,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Wearable patches, rings, and even audio glasses are starting to differentiate themselves from the typical watches, bands, and headphones by offering tech that is hidden yet functional. Audio glasses from the likes of Bose, Amazon, Razer, and others are also going a step further by allowing consumers to be more comfortable with being always connected and are working towards consumer acceptance of AR glasses further down the line.”
Apple is the clear market leader in the market as it replicated its performance from 2020 to 2021. The release of affordable Apple Watch SE and Series 3 contributed to its performance as more people became health conscious and invested in smart devices that can track and record their activities. However, earwear Airpods and Beats “showed sequential declines after reaching record levels in 4Q20.”
Samsung was able to overtake Chinese brand Xiaomi for the first time in 1Q21 and by more than a million units, according to IDC. Where Apple stumbled, Samsung thrived. Samsung’s wireless earbuds (Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Buds+, and the most recent addition, the Galaxy Buds Pro) contributed to the company’s growth. The company’s smartwatches and wristbands sustained their growth, reaching new first-quarter records.
Xiaomi was the only company among the Top 5 to post a year-on-year decline. Even as its earwear and watches posted strong growth from a year ago, declining wristband volumes, which accounted for more than half of its total 1Q21 volume, offset those gains. Xiaomi also faces the challenge of seeing very little of its total volume arriving outside of China, further limiting its growth opportunities.
Huawei was the only company to beat its 4Q20 shipment volumes and without any presence in North America. Instead, Huawei relied primarily on the Chinese market, but also saw continued improvement across Europe while maintaining its presence across Asia and Latin America. The company’s diverse portfolio encompassing watches, earwear, and wristbands all saw strong results, and the addition of glasses took a major step forward in China.
India-based BoAt stayed far enough ahead of Fitbit and Huami to retain its fifth-place position. Its focus on earwear has been well received, and likewise its $19 average selling price – the lowest among the leading companies – has kept them in reach of many customers.