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Pandemic-Driven Boom For Wearables, Top 5 Companies

New data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker has landed. For the fourth quarter of 2020 (4Q20), worldwide shipments of wearable devices reached 153.5 million – that’s a year-over-year increase of 27.2 per cent.

Shipments for the full year grew by 28.4 per cent, reaching 444.7 million units. While the Christmas quarter was largely driven by new devices and lower prices, the broader trend for 2020 was the surge in consumer spending for electronics as disposable income was reallocated from leisure activities during the pandemic.

IDC Mobile Device Trackers’ Research Manager, Jitesh Ubrani, explains the results. “While the shift in spending along with new products and typical seasonality were at play during the fourth quarter, the pandemic has also been good for the market as it has put health and fitness at the forefront of many consumers’ minds,” he says.

“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.”

Growth hasn’t happened for the entire wearables market though, with some companies and products having been affected by a global semiconductor shortage. Consequently, wristbands declined 17.8 per cent during the quarter and accounted for just 11.5 per cent of all wearable devices shipped.

Hearables were the largest category of devices with 64.2 per cent share of shipments, followed by watches making up 24.1 per cent.


Research Director for IDC’s Wearables Team, Ramon T. Llamas, explains the shift. “2020 was the year that hearables became the must-have device,” he says. “Hearables provided a new degree of privacy, particularly during home quarantine but also while out in public. Meeting that demand was a long list of vendors with an equally long list of devices, spanning the range of feature sets and price points.

“Underpinning the hearables market was a constantly shifting competitive landscape, with companies slowly gaining a foothold in the market (Amazon and its Echo Buds and Frames), vendors introducing new form factors (Apple and AirPods Max), and new features making their way down the price curve, including automatic noise cancelling and voice assistant capability.”


Top 5 Wearable Device Companies
By Shipment Volume, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q4 2020
Data source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, March 2021

Shipments (in millions), Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth for 4Q20:

  1. Apple: 55.6m shipments, 36.2% share, 27.2% growth
  2. Xiaomi: 13.5m shipments, 8.8% share, 5% growth
  3. Samsung: 13m shipments, 8.5% share, 20.5% growth
  4. Huawei: 10.2m shipments, 6.7% share, 7.6% growth
  5. BoAt: 5.4m shipments, 3.5% share, 470.1% growth
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