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Watches Replace Wristbands As Wearables Jump 10%

Global shipments for wearables grew 9.9 per cent during the September quarter, with the poorly-named ‘hearables’ category (wireless earbuds) leading the charge with 26.5 per cent growth year-on-year, accounting for 64.7 per cent of wearable device shipments.

Watches and wristbands both suffered from supply constraints, however the tide has turned away from wristbands, such as the FitBit and other imitators, towards watches, with the low-end price category rising as Indian and Chinese brands enter the low-end watch space, and Apple, Huawei and Samsung dominating the high-end.

“Demand has been slowly shifting away from wristbands towards watches as consumers increasingly want a more capable device and as the gap in pricing narrows,” notes Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

“While the entire wrist-worn wearable market declined year over year, the market for watches actually grew 4.3%,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team.

“And even as smartwatches (devices capable of running third-party applications) have been very popular, it’s the other watches – including kids’ watches, exercise watches, hybrid watches, and others – that drove the market. That’s not to say that smartwatches are losing steam; on the contrary, Apple’s late release of the Watch Series 7 and WearOS relaunching itself among its many hardware vendors will soon generate renewed interest.”

Apple overcame a 35.3 per cent decline in Apple Watch shipments during the quarter, to lead the wearables market, driven by strong demand for its new AirPods and Beats.

Samsung’s recent launch of the Galaxy Watch 4 Series sees it secure second place, with the move from Tizen to Wear OS, as well as a number of bespoke limited-edition watches, attracting customers.

Xiaomi’s shipments fell 23.8 per cent as wristbands fell out of favour, while Huawei’s wide range of hearables made up for a drop in its wristbands and watches.

Indian’s Imagine Marketing has flooded the market with low-cost wearables and “relentless marketing”, as IDC puts it. The company also launched its own watch, which makes up 10 per cent of its total shipments.


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