For several years now, the top two spots in worldwide wearable sales have been occupied by Apple and Fitbit. The Apple Watch has been the top-selling wearable since its debut, and Fitbit’s range of fitness bands and watches have caught on in a big way with health-minded consumers (including Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s rarely without her Fitbit band).
But a new report from International Data Corp. that tracked worldwide sales of wearables in the third quarter of 2019 reveals that although Apple is still the wearable world’s top dog, Fitbit has lost substantial market share to competitors—and has tumbled from the number two spot to the number five spot in global sales.
This, while consumer demand for wearables skyrockets. Global shipments of wearable devices totaled 84.5 million units in the third quarter, which was a year-over-year increase of 94.6%, according to IDC.
But there’s a new kind of wearable throwing a wrench into the accounting of wearables sales. “Hearables”—led by Apple’s wildly popular AirPods—comprised almost half the wearables market in the third quarter of 2019, followed by wristbands and smartwatches. Yes, technically, hearables are wearables (we wear them, direct voice commands at them, etc.). But hearables certainly stretch the definition of wearables; it can take a minute to wrap your brain around their inclusion in the category.
Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC’s wearables team, said in a company statement that hearables have become “the new go-to product for the wearables market.” He explained, “This began with multiple vendors removing the headphone jack from their smartphones, driving the move toward wireless headphones. It continued with hearables incorporating additional features that either augment or expand the audio experience.”
The rise of smart assistants (Alexa, Siri) on devices—including hearables—is transforming the wearables market into one that’s more about providing lifestyle shortcuts and less about tracking health and fitness (categories wearables have been targeting with reliability for years). And as the definition of wearables expands, the door to increased growth will surely swing open.
Here were the top-selling wearables of 2019’s third quarter:
Apple commanded 35% market share in the category, leading the pack with superstar products Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones. IDC notes that “the price reduction on the Series 3 Watch as well as the launch of AirPods Pro leaves Apple in a strong position to maintain dominance in this market for the short term.”
The Chinese brand’s popular Mi Band lineup “shipped more than 10 million units during the quarter, and the company was able to significantly expand its global reach by targeting countries in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region,” according to the same company statement.
Samsung’s new watches and hearables (both self-branded as well as JBL-branded) captured 9.8% of the market, and to date “the company has been able to successfully bundle its smartwatches and Galaxy buds with its smartphones, and this strategy has paid off, as many carriers around the world helped promote Samsung’s lineup.”
The Chinese brand is extremely popular in its home country and grew 188% year-over-year in Q3.
“The company’s latest wearables and watches have been well received, though it still struggled to grow during the quarter,” according to the IDC statement, which further noted that its November 2019 acquisition by Google “fills the brand’s future with uncertainty.”
Top: Apple Watch series 5
Follow me on Instagram: @emilivesilindFollow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine