The worldwide wearable market grew 31.4 per cent year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2018, driven by new launches for the holiday sales period and bundling with smartphones, IDC figures showed.
The segment reached a record quarterly high of 59.3 million units. For the full year, shipments increased 27.5 per cent to 172.2 million units, with much of the growth attributed to “ear-worn” devices, which captured almost a quarter of the market.
IDC said it had recently updated its definition for the category to include wireless headphones capable of enabling smart assistants at the touch of a button or through “hot word” detection, including Apple’s AirPods and Google’s Pixel Buds.
In Q4, smartwatches accounted for 34.3 per cent of the market, followed by wrist bands at 30 per cent. The latter category benefitted from recent launches by Xiaomi, Huawei and Fitbit. Ear-worn wearables made up 21.9 per cent.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, said: “The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past year and we expect this to continue in the years to come. 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 complementary to the device ecosystem that lives on their wrist and in their pocket.”
In terms of vendors, Apple maintained top spot with shipments of 16.2 million units, including 10.4 million Apple Watches. Xiaomi took second spot, as strength in its home market of China was joined by a growing international presence: Mi Band 3 alone accounted for 30 per cent of all wrist bands shipped during the quarter.
Huawei, Fitbit and Samsung completed the top five.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back