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Sales of wearables have fallen for the first time since 2013

Tim Green

The nine year boom in the wearables market ended in 2022, says new research from IDC.

The sector has been growing steadily for the best part of a decade, especially since Apple launched its watch in 2015. But that run is now over. The new Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report from IDC says global shipments for the full year 2022 declined by 3.3 percent to 515.6m units.

The analyst says the fall was in part due to the market's dramatic growth during the first two years of the pandemic – and also the challenging global macroeconomic environment.

However, it is a little more optimistic about 2023 with shipments forecast to reach 539 million units. It expects Indian brands to outpace the growth of incumbents such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi. During 3Q22, three of the top 10 wearable device companies were from India, with Imagine Marketing achieving second place behind Apple.

IDC expects overall shipments to reach 628.3m by the end of 2026. It predicts sales of smartwatches will grow with a 6.3 percent CAGR while sales of hearables will grow by 5.1 percent.

"Although the market will contract in 2022, this is only temporary," said Ramon T. Llamas, Research Director, Mobile Devices and AR/VR at IDC. "The market fundamentals are sound with healthy replacement rates, continued market penetration, and greater availability of more devices at different feature sets and price points in the years to come."