Extra individuals are shopping for wearables than ever earlier than – and Apple is main the best way

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Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 6.

The wearables category of consumer devices – which includes smartwatches, fitness trackers and augmented reality glasses – shipped more than 100 million units for the first time in the first quarter, according to research company IDC. In the second quarter of 2021, sales increased by 34.4 percent compared to the same quarter of 2020.

To be clear, wearables sold so many (and more) units in the previous quarter, but never in the first quarter. This is a bit of a slow pace after a vacation spending spree in the fourth quarter.

In recent years, wearables like the Fitbit Versa have made up one of the fastest growing categories of personal electronics, but the devices still lag far behind smartphones in terms of the number of units moved quarterly or annually.

According to IDC data, Apple leads the market by a clear margin, presumably thanks to the Apple Watch. In the first quarter of 2021, Apple had a market share of 28.8 percent. In second place is Samsung with 11.3 percent, followed by Xiaomi with 9.7 percent and Huawei with 8.2. From there it’s a steep decline to the smaller players – like BoAt, which only has a market share of 2.9 percent.

  • This table shows the shipments of various companies in the wearables sector from the first quarter of 2021.

  • And here is a visualization of the market share.

However, analysts say upstart or smaller companies like BoAt are driving significant year-over-year growth in wearables. Here is the word from IDC Wearables Research Director Ramon T. Llamas:


Larger companies have certainly drawn attention to the global wearables market, but it is the smaller companies that are fueling growth. Instead of competing head-to-head with products similar to the market leaders, these smaller companies have instead focused on specific markets and succeeded with different solutions. BoAt, for example, number five on our list, has established itself by concentrating on the Indian market and has been rewarded with three-digit growth. Another example comes from Oura, whose fitness tracking ring has attracted the attention of large sports teams and consumers. These and many other companies contributed to the Others category, which grew 55.5% year over year.

According to IDC’s report, the fastest growth alongside smartwatches is coming from form factors such as digitally connected rings, audio glasses and wearable patches. This grab bag sub-category within wearables, which the IDC simply classifies as “other”, even grew by 55 percent year-on-year.

Big tech companies like Samsung and Apple have repeatedly told investors in their quarterly earnings calls that wearables are among the fastest growing revenue streams and new users, and the companies said the category will be a major focus in the future. Right now, the wearables space is mostly dominated by wrist fitness trackers, but as the data shows, there are some signs that more wearable types may break through. Analysts assume that growth for these will continue in the future.

The result can be a personal computing landscape in which users rely on a variety of specialized devices for specific circumstances, rather than relying solely on a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop as a single point of contact. However, if the functioning of devices from Apple, Samsung, and Google is any indication, then many wearables are likely to treat the smartphone as a mobile nerve center for a wide variety of connected devices.

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