Apple remains the undisputed leader of a fast-growing global wearables market

Apple remains the undisputed leader of a fast-growing global wearables market
2018 was not a great year for smartphones, despite the strong individual performance of companies like Huawei or Xiaomi. But for the past few quarters, smartwatches have managed to make pretty great progress in terms of mainstream adoption both stateside and around the world. As it turns out, lower-cost fitness bands are also doing rather well, contributing to an impressive recent growth rate for the overall wearables market.

According to the latest research conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC), global shipments of wearable devices reached a new all-time quarterly high of 59.3 million units during the final three months of 2018, as well as 172.2 million for the entire year. Those figures are up a whopping 31.4 and 27.5 percent respectively from only 45.1 and 135 million units in Q4 2017 and 2017 as a whole.

Before moving on to the part of the IDC's new report that we know you're most interested in, it's important to highlight all the above numbers include a class of ear-worn devices that were previously considered a part of a different industry. We're talking about "wireless headphones capable of enabling smart assistants at the touch of a button or through hot-word detection." Even more specifically, think products like Apple's AirPods, Google's Pixel Buds, or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

Apple remains the undisputed leader of a fast-growing global wearables market

These ear-worn devices actually outpaced both smartwatches and activity trackers in terms of Q4 growth, boosting their worldwide shipments by a staggering 66.4 percent, compared to "only" 55.2 percent progress for smartwatches. Still, there were more smartwatches sold between October and December 2018 than both wrist bands and "smart" headphones.

As far as vendors go, Apple unsurprisingly ruled the wearable chart for both the entire year and the final calendar quarter, with 46.2 and 16.2 million units respectively. Interestingly, while the company's market share surged when taking into account the full 12 months tracked by the IDC, its Q4 slice of the pie actually took a little bit of a hit. Another interesting tidbit is the 4.8 million shipment estimate for AirPods and Siri-supporting Beats headphones during Q4 2018.

Apple remains the undisputed leader of a fast-growing global wearables market

Meanwhile, Xiaomi can certainly be happy about the performance of its ultra-affordable Mi Band lineup, which helped the company retain its second place among the world's top five vendors, ahead of Huawei, Fitbit, and Samsung in Q4, and Fitbit, Huawei, and Samsung overall in 2018. Huawei actually posted the industry's biggest growth this past year, while Fitbit returned to modest growth over the holidays, boosted by the Charge 3 and Versa.

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12 Comments

1. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

What makes Apple Watch so great and popular? I've used one for a minute. Haven't used wristwatch in many many years so haven't bought Apple Watch.

4. nepalisherpa

Posts: 334; Member since: Jul 17, 2015

"What makes your question valid? I've read the first word." Hope you got what I'm trying to say. :)

5. drunkenjay

Posts: 1640; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

reverse psychology?

7. whatev

Posts: 2117; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

In my case I exercise everyday and try different kind of training, the watch really helps me with the statistics so I can set goals per week, but I think people who buy Smartwatches for fashion or similar reasons are wasting their money and are misusing those devices

12. Mike88

Posts: 88; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

It makes life so easy and fun while looking so premium and beautiful.. I love my apple watch series 4

2. almostdone

Posts: 423; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

I have no bad comments to say about the Apple watch. lol

3. cncrim

Posts: 1558; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Used smartwatch for 3 days and put up for sale and never look back. My 2 cent, save your money if you already have smartphone.

6. Valinor

Posts: 169; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

Can you imagine if they also become Android compatible. Shame it will never happen.

8. gdawilson

Posts: 285; Member since: Jul 21, 2014

I'll keep supporting the small players in this market. My $20 mi band 2 offers something Apple's watches don't: sleep tracking

9. rouyal

Posts: 1566; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

I think one to watch would be the Galaxy Watch Active. It looks like it could be popular.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 30786; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Apple needs to allow full workout logs to be stored on the watch, and not just the phone. I hate after I finish a workout, the whole log is there, until I hit done, then I can only view it all from the phone. My watch has 16 gigs, and I can't use a single one to store workout info. C'mon Apple.

11. strawberry

Posts: 62; Member since: Feb 20, 2019

i have used mi, samsung, apple, even sony. find that apple smartwatch still the most polished and good for general consumers. just too easy to use.

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