Apple dominated the global wearables market (again) but failed to impress in Q1 2021


As usual, Apple absolutely crushed its rivals in terms of both smartwatch sales and wearable device shipments around the world between January and March 2021, according to two new reports published by Counterpoint Research and the International Data Corporation (IDC) respectively.

But while the Cupertino-based tech giant impressively managed to improve its global numbers by 50 percent in the former market compared to the first three months of 2020, jumping to an astounding 33.5 percent share, its year-over-year growth as far as all wearables are concerned only sits at 19.8 percent at the end of Q1 2021.
That’s still enough for an overall increase of no less than 5 million units, from 25.1 in Q1 2020 to 30.1 million now, which equates to a declining yet comfortably dominant 28.8 percent market share.
In second place, Samsung actually outgrew its arch-rival but only in percentage points, with its otherwise remarkable 35.7 percent year-over-year progress merely translating into a shipment numbers boost of a little more than 3 million units, from 8.7 to 11.8 million.

Interestingly, that was barely enough for a gain of 0.1 percent in share, and the main reason are smaller industry players like BoAt. Even though you’ve probably never even heard of that India-based company, its domestic shipments completely exploded in Q1 2021, jumping from 700 thousand to 3 million units to more than quadruple the brand’s slice of the global pie and propel it into the top five.

The “others” category, including manufacturers as diverse as Fitbit, Garmin, Huami, Bose, Amazon, and Razer, also had a pretty tremendous quarter, largely thanks to the ever-rising popularity of low-cost fitness bands and true wireless earbuds.

Intriguingly, however, “declining wristband volumes” were primarily to blame for Xiaomi’s fall from second to third place, while Huawei managed to make decent gains in fourth thanks to a very eclectic product portfolio including everything from premium smartwatches to cheaper smartwatches, even cheaper activity trackers, and all kinds of earwear.

Circling back to the wearable industry’s heavyweight champion, we should point out that Apple’s AirPods and Beats-branded earbuds are highlighted in this latest report as the company’s main underperformers, which makes sense given both their advanced age and the incredible success of the Apple Watch lineup.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s great progress is largely attributed to its ever-expanding Galaxy Buds portfolio, as well as lower-cost true wireless earbuds sold under the JBL brand. That emphasizes just how many amazing true wireless earbuds options are available nowadays in so many different price brackets (with or without active noise cancellation), and how badly Apple needs to upgrade its AirPods to fend off the increasingly ambitious competition.


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