Report: Wearables market sees first ever decline in Q1

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Wearables shipments worldwide declined 3% year-over-year in the first quarter, marking the industry’s first-ever decline, according to a report by the International Data Corporation.

But the shipment slowdown wasn’t equal across different types of wearables. Wristband wearables declined 40.5%, while hearables, like earbuds or smart headphones, fell only 0.6%. Watches actually grew 9.1% during the quarter, making up more than a quarter of the overall market.

Apple led the pack in terms of shipment volume, growing 6.6% year-over-year. The tech giant now boasts 30.5% market share compared with 27.7% in the first quarter in 2021. The report attributes Apple’s performances to its Apple Watches, as shipments of its AirPods were flat.

Samsung came in second, though shipments declined nearly 10% year-over-year. It holds 10.3% of the market compared with 11.1% last year. IDC notes the company had generally relied on smartphone sales to bundle wearables, particularly hearables, and those smartphone sales have slowed. However, it did note that Galaxy Watch 4’s shipments grew 32.7% during Q1. 

Other companies in the top five include Chinese companies Xiaomi and Huawei, as well as Imagine Marketing, which has a large presence in India. 

IDC points toward slowing demand as the primary driver behind the decline after years of growth, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s also more competition in the space today, with lower-priced options that could lure consumers away from pricier wearables.

“Cooling demand will force companies to further differentiate themselves,” Ramon T. Llamas, research director for mobile devices and AR/VR at IDC, said in a statement. “With most features becoming increasingly common among the different devices, companies will have to convince customers to upgrade with best-in-class experiences knowing that there are plenty of alternatives available. This will call for new hardware, software and services that will both surprise and delight, and keep customers engaged.”

THE LARGER TREND

Earlier this week, Apple revealed new health-related features coming with its watch OS9, including medication tracking, atrial fibrillation history, enhanced sleep monitoring and more workout tracking.

Meanwhile after months of rumors, Google recently confirmed its own smartwatch, called the Pixel Watch, will be coming this fall. Though the tech giant owns Fitbit and has supported other smartwatches through its operating system, this will be the company’s first branded product.

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