The market researchers at IDC say that global shipments of wearable devices grew 29.7 percent during the first quarter to 72.6 million units, driven primarily by earwear.
“The hearables category was seemingly resilient to the market-suppressing forces caused by COVID-19,” IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said. “Consumers were clamoring for these sophisticated earpieces not only for the ability to playback audio but also to help them increase productivity, as many of them were forced to work from home and sought ways to reduce surrounding noise while staying connected to their smartphones and smart assistants.”
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Smartwatches and other wrist-based wearables, meanwhile, suffered from the same supply constraints that hurt the mobile devices and PC markets.
Apple Watch, for example, saw a year-over-year unit sales decline, but AirPod sales exploded and Beats sales grew, propelling the firm to another first-place finish with an estimated 21.2 million units sold, good for 29.3 percent marketshare. Xiaomi landed in a distant second place with 10.1 million units, while Samsung (8.6 million units), Huawei (8.1 million units), and Fitbit (2.2 million units) brought up the rear. Aside from Fitbit, each of the top five wearable providers saw double-digit growth in the quarter, Fitbit sales nosedived 26 percent because of China-based supply issues.