IDC Reports Strong Growth in the Worldwide Wearables Market, Led by Holiday Shipments of Smartwatches, Wrist Bands, and Ear-Worn Devices

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”” target=”_blank”gt;#IDCTrackerlt;/agt;–The worldwide market for wearable devices grew 31.4% during the fourth
quarter of 2018 (4Q18), reaching a new high of 59.3 million units
according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC)
Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker
. Growth in the market was driven
by new wearables launching during the months leading up to the holiday
season as well as new smartphone launches as many were bundled with
wearables from leading brands. Shipments for the entire year of 2018
grew by 27.5% with 172.2 million wearables shipped. Much of this growth
was attributed to the growing number of ear-worn devices as they
captured almost a quarter of the market during the year.

In keeping up with current trends, IDC has recently revised its taxonomy
for ear-worn devices to now include wireless headphones capable of
enabling smart assistants at the touch of a button or through hot-word
detection. Examples of such headphones include Apple’s AirPods, Google’s
Pixel Buds, Bose’s QC35II, and more.

Among the various form factors available during the quarter,
smartwatches grew 55.2% compared to 4Q17 and accounted for 34.3% of the
overall market during the quarter. Meanwhile, wrist bands accounted for
30% of the market as recent launches from Xiaomi, Huawei, and Fitbit
continued to drive the category forward. Ear-worn devices grew 66.4% and
captured 21.9% of the market.

“The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past
year and we expect this to continue in the years to come,” said Jitesh
senior research analyst for IDC Mobile
Device Trackers
. “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 complimentary to the device
ecosystem that lives on their wrist and in their pocket.”

“Smartwatches, meanwhile, grew 54.3% and accounted for 29.8% of all
wearable device shipments in 2018,” said Ramon
T. Llamas
, research director for IDC’s Wearables.
“Apple accounted for nearly half the market and followed by a long list
of companies that posted double- and triple-digit growth. What resulted
from this was a growing list of devices available at multiple
price-points to meet the needs of a diverse market.”

Company Highlights

Apple maintained the number 1 position with 16.2 million devices
shipped in 4Q18, 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches. The Series 4
has been off to a very strong start and IDC anticipates this to continue
as more healthcare organizations and consumers adopt the latest device.
The remainder of Apple’s shipments were comprised of AirPods and Beats
headphones in the ear-worn category.

Xiaomi captured the second position amongst the top 5 with 12.6%
share. The company’s products remain strong in its home country of
China. However, recent investments in Europe and other Asian countries
have paid off and helped cement Xiaomi’s name as a competitive force.
Xiaomi’s Mi Band 3 alone accounted for over 30% of all wrist bands
shipped during the quarter.

Huawei had a great quarter in the wearables and smartphone
markets. Within smartphones, the company grew 43% during the quarter in
an otherwise declining market and this translated to a staggering 248.5%
growth in the wearables market since many of the Huawei and Honor phones
were bundled with wearables. New product launches such as the Watch GT,
FreeBuds 2 Pro, and a few others also helped the company gain traction.

Fitbit finally returned to growth during the holiday season as
the new Charge 3, combined with promotional activity on other popular
devices such as the Versa, helped the company to claw back some of its
market share. The company’s outlook remains strong as investments in the
healthcare segment continue to pay off. In the U.S., Fitbit has managed
to partner with providers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield,
UnitedHealthcare, and others, allowing for further proliferation of its
devices and services.

Rounding out the top 5 was Samsung with 4 million units shipped
during the quarter. Similar to Huawei and Xiaomi, Samsung was also able
to bundle many of its wearables with smartphones. The newly launched
Galaxy Watch was quite well received although older models such as the
Gear S3 still managed to capture a notable share of Samsung’s overall

Top 5 Wearable Companies by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and
Year-Over-Year Growth,

Q4 2018 (shipments in




4Q18 Market




4Q17 Market


Year Growth

1. Apple   16.2   27.4%   13.3   29.6%   21.5%
2. Xiaomi   7.5   12.6%   5.2   11.6%   43.3%
3. Huawei   5.7   9.6%   1.6   3.6%   248.5%
4. Fitbit   5.5   9.4%   5.4   11.9%   3.0%
5. Samsung   4.0   6.8%   2.0   4.3%   105.6%
Others   20.3   34.3%   17.6   38.9%   15.6%
Total   59.3   100.0%   45.1   100.0%   31.4%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearables Tracker, March 5, 2019

In addition to the table above, a graphic illustrating worldwide market
share for the top 5 wearables companies over the previous five quarters
is available by viewing this
press release on

Top 5 Wearable Companies by Shipment Volume, Market Share, and
Year-Over-Year Growth,

2018 (shipments in millions)




2018 Market




2017 Market


Year Growth

1. Apple   46.2   26.8%   33.1   24.5%   39.5%
2. Xiaomi   23.3   13.5%   16.1   11.9%   44.6%
3. Fitbit   13.8   8.0%   15.4   11.4%   -10.0%
4. Huawei   11.3   6.6%   4.6   3.4%   147.3%
5. Samsung   10.7   6.2%   5.8   4.3%   85.1%
Others   66.8   38.8%   60.0   44.4%   11.2%
Total   172.2   100.0%   135.0   100.0%   27.5%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearables Tracker, March 5, 2019

About IDC Trackers

products provide accurate and timely market size, vendor
share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than
100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research
processes, IDC’s Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and
monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly
excel deliverables and on-line query tools. To see more of IDC’s
worldwide wearables market data, go to

For more information about IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone
Tracker, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 650-350-6423 or

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of
market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information
technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With
more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and
local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in
over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals,
business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based
technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives.
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Group (IDG),
the world’s leading media, data and marketing services company that
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Ramon Llamas



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