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Apple Leads as Global Wearables Shipments Grow 9.9 Percent in Q3 2021: IDC

Apple captured the top position as global shipments for wearables grew 9.9 percent year-on-year (YoY) during the third quarter of 2021 (3Q21) reaching a total of 138.4 million units, according to a new report by the International Data Corporation (IDC). The wearables category includes true wireless stereo (TWS) earphones as well as wrist-worn wearables like fitness bands and smartwatches. The market research firm also says that the demand for smartwatches has increased as compared to wristbands owing to the narrowing gap in their pricing.

As per IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, the hearables led the growth as the category grew 26.5 percent on a year over year (YoY) basis and accounted for 64.7 percent of wearable device shipments. Wrist-worn wearables captured 34.7 percent of the market, IDC says. Apple and Huawei tied for first place in the wrist-worn segment dethroning Xiaomi in 3Q21 which relied on wristbands but consumer preferred watches.

“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,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. He says that the number of watches sold for under $100 (roughly Rs. 7,500) is now equal to wristbands, which have dominated this price band in the past. “While the entire wrist-worn wearable market declined YoY, the market for watches actually grew 4.3 percent,” added Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team.

On category-wise distribution, Ubrani says that Indian and Chinese brands grew due to low-end watches while “Apple, Huawei, and Samsung maintain a hold at the high-end”. Meanwhile, Llamas further dissected into the category saying that “even as smartwatches have been very popular, it’s the other watches – including kids’ watches, exercise watches, hybrid watches, and others – that drove the market.

Top wearable brands in Q3 2021

As mentioned, Apple captured the top position despite a 35.3 percent decline in Apple Watch shipments in 3Q21. Hearables from Beats and AirPods helped the company lead in the wearables market. Samsung got the second spot (13.8 percent growth) due to the good reception of the Galaxy Watch 4 Series smartwatches that run Google’s Wear OS. Xiaomi’s shipments fell 23.8 percent during the quarter owing to wrist-worn wearables, however, in the hearables category the company continued to offer extremely low-cost options.

Huawei grew with the help of its hearables business as wristbands and watches combined declined 5 percent during Q3 2021. The fifth spot was grabbed by Indian company Imagine Marketing, which is behind the brand Boat. The company offered low-cost products and did “relentless marketing” that helped it drive volume.


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