Global shipments of wearable devices reached 32.0 million units in the third quarter of 2018, up 21.7% from the previous year. In addition to new product launches, says the firm, growth was driven by growing demand in markets like Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), which accounted for more than half of all shipments and grew 21.4% over the previous year.
In the United States, the second largest market, year-over-year growth declined 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," says Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "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."
"However," says Ubrani, "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."
According to the firm, the smartwatch market also evolved during the quarter as the two largest smartwatch brands - Apple and Fitbit - continued to push into the healthcare market, which is quickly becoming "the next frontier" for wearables. With heavy regulation and greater scrutiny, IDC expects this segment to be able to stave off value brands, allowing the market leaders to further cement their lead.
"The wearables market benefits from geographic differences," says Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team. "China – the largest market for wearables and more than double the size of the U.S. market – has grown thanks to strong device development and experimentation, low-cost products, and strong demand for