Apple Watch and AirPods continue to dominate the wearables market

Airpods Max Side
Airpods Max Side (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple held a 36.2% share of 4Q20 shipments for the wearables market.
  • Apple Watch grew by 45.6%.
  • AirPods grew by 22%.

Apple has continued to dominate the wearables market in the fourth quarter of 2020. According to new data released by IDC, the overall market grew over 27% in the last quarter.

Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, says that health trackers and fitness services are causing a major uptick in the wearables business, especially during the pandemic.

"While the shift in spending along with new products and typical seasonality were at play during the fourth quarter, the pandemic has also been good for the market as it has put health and fitness at the forefront of many consumers' minds. In-home fitness programs are quickly becoming a crucial component of the wearables offering for many companies. Beyond that, the proliferation of health sensors such as skin temperature, ECG, and heart rate tracking are allowing users and health professionals to better understand the onset and tracking of diseases."

Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables Team, says that 2020 was the year that hearables, like Apple's AirPods Max headphones, passed smartwatches to become the must-have device.

"2020 was the year that hearables became the must-have device. Hearables provided a new degree of privacy, particularly during home quarantine but also while out in public. Meeting that demand was a long list of vendors with an equally long list of devices, spanning the range of feature sets and price points. Underpinning the hearables market was a constantly shifting competitive landscape, with companies slowly gaining a foothold in the market (Amazon and its Echo Buds and Frames), vendors introducing new form factors (Apple and AirPods Max), and new features making their way down the price curve, including automatic noise cancelling and voice assistant capability."

Apple Watch Series 6 Hero

Apple Watch Series 6 Hero (Image credit: Apple)

According to the report, Apple still leads the market with 45% growth with the Apple Watch and 22% for the AirPods family.

Apple led the market once again with 36.2% share of 4Q20 shipments. Its Watch shipments rose 45.6% thanks to the appeal of three models with different price points (Series 6, Watch SE, Series 3). Hearables shipments also surged during the quarter although year-over-year growth slowed to 22%, down from 28% and 29% in the previous two quarters. The slowing growth reflect the huge amount of adoption that the market has seen in recent quarters.

If you're wanting to pick up an Apple Watch but not sure of which one to get, check out our list of the Best Apple Watch of 2021.

Apple released the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE last fall. The company is also anticipated to release new versions of its AirPods headphones in the first quarter of 2021.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.