Looking for a growth market? Look no further than your wrist.
Worldwide shipments of wearable devices — both wrist-worn and ear-worn — rose 85% in the second quarter of this year, reaching 67.7 million units, according to IDC.
Wrist-worn devices include smartwatches and wrist bands. Ear-worn devices, a category known as “hearables,” include earbuds that plug into or hang from the ear. They can play stereo sound, filter unwanted noise, control digital smart assistants, and even provide language translations.
Now hear this
Demand for the hearables category is especially strong, riding on the popularity of devices such as Apple’s AirPods. Hearables captured nearly 47% of the overall wearables market shipments, up from about 25% a year earlier, IDC says.
Apple AirPods: a wireless hearable
Most hearables are bought as second devices. Consumers use these devices in concert with wrist-worn devices they already own.
Apple is the top supplier of hearable devices. It captured 50% of the market in Q2, shipping 15.9 million hearable devices, IDC says. No other supplier came even close.
Wrist case scenario
Demand for wrist-worn wearables, while not as high as that for hearables, is still pretty strong. Unit sales rose by nearly 29% in the second quarter of this year, reaching 34.2 million units worldwide, according to IDC. These shipments included smart watches, basic watches and wrist bands.
Just 5 suppliers collectively captured over 65% of those shipments: Xiaomi, Apple, Huawei, Fitbit and Samsung.
Health tracking and monitoring is now the top application. Another top use is making mobile payments.
For the full year, IDC expects wrist-worn wearable shipments to reach 66.5 million units worldwide. Looking ahead further, IDC predicts shipments of wrist-worn wearables to grow by an average of 12% a year through 2023, when worldwide shipments will reach 105.3 million units.
The wearbles market is lively and dynamic. Earlier this week, for example, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 5. The device, with a retail price starting at about $400, features an always-on display that never sleeps. To preserve battery life, the watch’s face dims when the user’s wrist is down.
Apple Watch Series 5: always-on display
Another new feature on the Apple Watch Series 5 lets women users track their menstrual cycle and see the predicted time for their next period and window of fertility.
An innovative health application is being offered by U.K. health- and life-insurance provider Vitality. It has a program that offers Apple Watches at a discount to customers in 13 countries. Users can track their activity with the Apple Watch to earn rewards such as discounts on their insurance premiums and the watches themselves.
Check out the latest wearables. Demand for these devices shows no sign of wearing thin.