Apple Watch and AirPods were part of a huge year for wearables in 2020

Apple Watch and AirPods
Apple Watch and AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • The wearables market is expected to grow 18% this year.
  • Earbuds and smartwatches are leading the charge.

A new report from analytics firm Gartner predicts that spending on wearable devices will reach over $81 billion in 2021, an 18% increase from last year. According to the firm, the rise of remote work, as well as health monitoring during the pandemic, is driving consumers and businesses to invest in wearable devices.

Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner, said that earbuds like AirPods and smartwatches llike Apple Watch led the growth as more consumers use these devices to monitor their health, track fitness, and work from home.

"The introduction of health measures to self-track COVID-19 symptoms, along with increasing interest from consumers in their personal health and wellness during global lockdowns, presented a significant opportunity for the wearables market. Ear-worn devices and smartwatches are seeing particularly robust growth as consumers rely on these devices for remote work, fitness activities, health tracking and more."

The earbuds market notably rose 124% to $32.7 billion in 2020 as more people purchased better headphones for video calls and to pair with new smartphones. The smartwatch market also grew 17.6% to $21.8 billion last year as more consumers purchased devices in this category for the first time.

Gartner Wearables

Gartner Wearables (Image credit: Gartner)

Atwal went on to say that, since the sensors that monitor different areas of health continue to improve in their capability and accuracy, the smartwatch market will continue to see impressive growth over the next few years.

"The capability of embedded sensors is often a determining factor in the reliability and usefulness of a wearable product. Given the sensor improvement trend seen over the last several years, sensors built into wearable devices will be increasingly capable of more accurate readings, driving market growth over the next 3-5 years."

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.