Apple is now totally dominating the wearable tech market

Stay at home lifestyles and fitness goals drove wearables sales.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Companies making wearable tech have seen sales rise as consumers switched spending from social activities like eating out to devices that made staying at home during the pandemic a little bit easier.  

Analyst firm IDC reports Q4 2020 wearable sales reached 153.5 million, up 27.2% compared to pre-pandemic Q4 2019. For the full year, wearables sales grew 28.4% to 444.7 million units. 

But did smartwatches or smart earphones – or "hearables", as IDC calls them – drive volumes of wearables? According to IDC, smart earphones made up 64% of shipments, followed by watches that accounted for 24.1%. 


"2020 was the year that hearables became the must-have device," said Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC's wearables unit. "Hearables provided a new degree of privacy, particularly during home quarantine but also while out in public."

Including watches and earphones, Apple led the market with a 36% share of Q4 2020 shipments. Apple Watch shipments rose 45.6% thanks to Apple's new lineup of the Series 6 (from $399), Watch SE (from $279), Series 3 (from $199). 

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IDC also spotlights Apple's new AirPods Max headphones, which have great sound and noise cancelling, but cost $549. 

IDC notes that shipments growth of hearables slowed to 22%, down from 28% and 29% in the previous two quarters. It notes this could be because consumers have bought them in large numbers in recent quarters.


No other vendor has a double-digit share of the wearables market in Q4 2020. Xiaomi was a distant second to Apple with a 8.8% share and 13 million units, followed by Samsung with an 8.5% share. Samsung shipped 8.8 million earphones among its 13 million overall wearables shipments. Huawei, which has faced two years of US sanctions, had a 6.7% share with 10.2 million units, while India's boAt nabbed fifth place with a 3.5% share with 5.4 million units. 

All of the top five vendors saw year-on-year growth in shipments, but the only vendor that didn't see its market share slip over the year was Apple.  

For the full year 2020, IDC reports that Apple sold 151.4 million wearables and had a market share of 34.1%.

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