Worldwide shipments of wearable devices reached 153.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 (4Q20), a year-over-year increase of 27.2% according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Shipments for the full year grew 28.4% to 444.7 million units. While the holiday quarter was largely driven by new devices and lower prices, the broader trend for 2020 was the surge in consumer spending for electronics as disposable income was reallocated from leisure activities during the pandemic.
Worldwide shipments of wearable devices reached 153.5 million in Q4 2020, a year-over-year increase of 27.2% according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
“While the shift in spending along with new products and typical seasonality were at play during the fourth quarter, the pandemic has also been good for the market as it has put health and fitness at the forefront of many consumers’ minds,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “In-home fitness programs are quickly becoming a crucial component of the wearables offering for many companies. Beyond that, the proliferation of health sensors such as skin temperature, ECG, and heart rate tracking is allowing users and health professionals to better understand the onset and tracking of diseases.”
However, growth has not been even across the wearables market as some companies and products were affected by the global semiconductor shortage. Most notably, wristbands declined 17.8% during the quarter and accounted for just 11.5% of all wearable devices shipped. Hearables* were the largest category of devices with 64.2% share of shipments, followed by watches with 24.1% share.
“2020 was the year that hearables became the must-have device,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables Team. “Hearables provided a new degree of privacy, particularly during home quarantine but also while out in public. Meeting that demand was a long list of vendors with an equally long list of devices, spanning the range of feature sets and price points. Underpinning the hearables market was a constantly shifting competitive landscape, with companies slowly gaining a foothold in the market (Amazon and its Echo Buds and Frames), vendors introducing new form factors (Apple and AirPods Max), and new features making their way down the price curve, including automatic noise cancelling and voice assistant capability.”
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