Wearables grew 85% in second quarter, with slew of new products

Wearables like the new Apple Watch Series 5 and ear worn wearables are growing in popularity with new services and apps for health and music. (Apple)

Wearable electronic devices shipped globally grew 85% in the second quarter of 2019. Ear worn devices such as ear buds for playing music and fitness apps, made up nearly half of all such devices, according to analyst firm IDC.

There were 67.7 million wearables shipped in the second quarter and ear worn hearables made up nearly 32 million of the total, or about 47%, IDC said.

Meanwhile, IDC said wrist-worn wearables such as smartwatches totaled 34 million devices that shipped in the quarter, slightly more than 50% of all wearables.

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The number of hearables shipped nearly doubled over the second quarter of 2018 because of a “slew of new products” and because consumers purchased their second wearable, a hearable, to use in parallel with existing watches or wrist bands, IDC said in a statement.

Quality audio helps drive the market for hearables, but there are other features such as smart assistants and health and fitness apps, said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.

For smartwatches and other wrist-worn wearables, health-related services and apps are a big reason for their growth, but mobile payment is also important. About two-fifths of wrist-worn wearables use NFC to make payments, while many more rely on QR codes for transactions, said IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani.

The top vendors of hearables and their market share are: Apple (50%), Samsung (10%), Xiaomi (6.5%), Bose (5.7%) and GN Group (5.1%). Apple introduced refreshed AirPods, helping the company grow 218% compared to a year earlier, IDC said.

For wrist-worn wearables, IDC includes smartwatches, basic watches and wrist bands. As a result, top smartphone maker Apple finished second for the second quarter behind Xiaomi, which focuses on wrist bands, including the MiBand 4. 

Apple still holds the lead for top dollar value of its Apple Watch smartwatches, which had an average selling price of $448 in the second quarter, IDC said. With the new Series 5 Apple Watch announced Sept. 10, Apple should capture 39% of the global smartwatch market for all of 2019, IDC said.

In terms of rankings for wrist-worn wearables, Xiaomi was first with 17.3% share, Apple had 14.8%, Huawei had 14%, Fitbit had 10% and Samsung had 9.4%.

For all of 2019, IDC predicted 152 million wrist-worn wearables will ship, a 21.7% increase over 2018. In 2023, IDC predicted 194 million will ship, representing annual growth of 6%.

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