The wearable market experienced a 27.5-percent year-on-year growth throughout 2018 compared to a year before, according to a new report from IDC. The research firm reveals that a total of 172.2 million wearables have been shipped worldwide in 2018, up from 135 million units shipped in 2017. 59.3 million wearables have been shipped in Q4 2018 alone.
This growth is partly attributed to the fact that IDC now includes wireless earphones into the wearable segment, as well as an increase in the number of wearables launching in the months leading to the holiday season. In addition, late last year several smartphone OEMs have bundled some of their handsets with wearables – primarily wireless earphones – which further led to a higher number of units being shipped by the end of 2018.
IDC claims that the ear-worn wearable market grew substantially in 2018 and views the segment as the "next battleground" for OEMs. The importance of wireless earphones increased in part due to the exclusion of standard 3.5mm headphone jacks in some smartphone models, and IDC expects the segment to continue to grow in the upcoming years.
As for other wearables, IDC reports that the smartwatch market alone grew by 55.2-percent in the fourth quarter alone, compared to Q4 2017. This information seems to fall in line with a previous report published by Strategy Analytics last month, which focused solely on the smartwatch segment.
Furthermore, IDC estimates that other wrist wearables covered 30-percent of the market during the same timeframe, while ear-worn devices which are a new addition in IDC's market analysis experienced 66.4-percent growth while accounting for 21.9-percent of the wearable market.
The most popular brands in the wearable market segment are Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei, Fitbit, and Samsung. Apple remains the top vendor with 46.2 million shipments throughout 2018 and a 26.8-percent market share.
Apple's shipments include the Watch, as well as AirPods and other wireless headphones branded by Beats. But while tech giant from Cupertino experienced a 39.5-percent year-over-year growth, Huawei is the OEM that seems to have grown the most last year, boasting a 147.3-percent increase in its performance throughout 2018. The Chinese OEM shipped a total of 11.3 million wearables last year, securing 6.6-percent market share.
In the fourth quarter alone, Huawei shipped 5.7 million wearables and registered a year-over-year growth of 248.5-percent. This is in part thanks to new product launches including the FreeBuds 2 Pro in China, and the Watch GT.
Samsung, too, experienced an 85.1-percent year-over-year-growth in 2018 but occupied the fifth place in terms of market share, accounting for 6.2-percent. The Korean OEM has been outperformed by Apple, Huawei, and Xiaomi with 13.5-percent market share, as well as Fitbit whose wearables accounted for 8.0-percent of the market.
IDC notes that the Samsung Galaxy Watch launched last year performed quite well, but older models such as the Gear S3 also contributed to the OEM's shipments in 2018. Samsung introduced the new Galaxy Watch Active a couple of weeks ago but if history is any indication then last year's model should continue to sell this year as well.
After a period of decline, Fitbit registered a slight increase in shipments in Q4 2018, mostly thanks to the Charge 3 and Versa wearables. This week the OEM introduced a new Versa Lite Edition for the price of $159.95, along with two new activity trackers priced as low as $69.95, and the kid-focused Ace 2 which will become available for purchase this summer.
All in all, the wearable segment seems to be on the rise as vendors expand their portfolios to include more categories, and as smartphone OEMs continue to bundle their wearables with flagship phones. Most recently, Samsung offered the new Galaxy Buds for free along with every Galaxy S10 pre-order, and this is bound to help the OEM in maintaining a wearable market presence in 2019.