Launches of new devices grew the worldwide wearables market to reach 32 million units shipped in Q3 2018, up 21.7% from the same quarter last year, IDC reports.
New products from the likes of Fitbit, Garmin, and Huawei helped the basic wearables category return to growth during the quarter, the analyst company said, while there was also strong demand from Asia Pacific region, specifically China.
Meanwhile, the second largest market, the United States, saw its year-over-year growth decline 0.4% as it transitions from a market driven by new users to one that relies on replacement devices and upgrades.
"Many of the new basic wearables include features like notifications or simple app integrations that bleed into smartwatch territory. This has helped satiate consumer demand for more capable devices while also maintaining average selling prices in a market that faces plenty of downward pressure from low-cost vendors and declining smartwatch pricing," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "However, this resurgence of basic wearables should be watched closely as these wearables have historically been popular due to their low-price points and simplified set of features. As more features get added and as the price differential between basic trackers and smartwatches narrows, brands could potentially move consumers upstream to smartwatches.
"Meanwhile, the smartwatch market also evolved during the quarter as the two largest smartwatch brands, Apple and Fitbit, continued to delve deeper into the healthcare market," added Ubrani. "The healthcare market is quickly becoming the next frontier for wearables brands to conquer. With heavy regulation and greater scrutiny, this segment will likely be the one that staves off value brands, allowing the market leaders to further cement their lead."
"The wearables market benefits from geographic differences," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team. "China - the largest market for wearables and more than double the size of the US market - has grown thanks to strong device development and experimentation, low-cost products, and strong demand for basic devices to draw in new users. Meanwhile, the US market - while slowing down - presents an opportunity for vendors to offer more featured and higher-priced devices to current users and possibly to recapture old ones. In between the two markets are many other countries in various states of development, and this allows vendors to take different approaches to meet demand. Combine these geographic differences with the new product announcements and releases, and the stage is set for a strong holiday quarter."
Xiaomi was the leading vendor in the segment, which IDC attributed to the success of its Mi Band 3 and expansion outside of home market China. Price reduction on Apple's Series 3 line accounted for the majority of its shipments, putting Apple in second place, while Fitbit's launches of the Versa, Charge 3 and Ace devices helped it to regain market share and put it in third place. Huawei finished just ahead of Samsung to maintain its number four position worldwide, emphasizing its newest TalkBand B5 series of wristbands