Smart personal audio and wearable band devices were the two consumer IoT (Internet of Things) segments that witnessed significant growth in 2020.

As per Canalys’ latest estimates, smart personal audio devices grew 20 per cent in 2020 to reach 432 million units, while wearable bands grew 10 per cent at 185 million units.

The growth was driven by a “strong consumer demand and a shift in vendor ecosystem strategies.”

The growth in smart personal audio was led by TWS (truly wireless) while the wearable band market began pivoting considerably towards wearable wristwatches by the end of 2020.

“Due to the market’s low barrier to entry, especially for TWS devices, where the mature supply chain resulted in better devices at lower price points, vast shipments flooded the market in a short period of time,” said Canalys Research Analyst Cynthia Chen.

“Established vendors, ranging from traditional audio players to smart device vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have enjoyed robust growth in 2020, but they are faced with mounting challenges as they strive to differentiate in an increasingly homogeneous audio space,” added Chen.

As for leading players in market share, Apple (including Beats) topped the charts in Q4 2020 with a 26.5 per cent, market share.

Apple also topped the list in terms of the worldwide smart personal audio shipments for the full year 2020 with a 25.2 per cent market share. It was followed by Samsung (including Harman subsidiaries) with an 8.9 per cent share. Xiaomi (5.9 per cent), Sony (3.5 per cent) and Edifier (2.8 per cent) were the other top players.

Wearable bands

On the other hand, “Basic bands declined 27 per cent in Q4 2020, as the market, led by Xiaomi, failed to perform. However, the decline was offset by the rise of basic and smartwatches, to a point where the overall market stayed flat in Q4,” explained Canalys Research Manager Jason Low.

“As opposed to smartwatches, the basic watch category, which are watches running rudimentary real-time operating systems without third party-app support, served as a new vehicle for vendors to explore opportunities in the wristwatch category. Vendors such as Xiaomi, Realme, and Huami are expanding globally and are expected to leverage the category extensively,” explained Low.

As for the leading players of worldwide wearable band shipments and growth Q4 2020, Apple held a 25 per cent market share.

However, for the full year 2020, Xiaomi came in first with a 20.3 per cent market share, followed by Apple at 19 per cent. Other top players include Huawei (incl. Honor) at 17.4 per cent, Fitbit at 7..2 per cent and Samsung with a 5.2 market share.

Wearable bands as the next category poised for growth after smart personal audio devices by vendors looking to play a part in the consumer IoT ecosystem.

“Wearable bands exhibit greater room for innovation compared to hearables. The challenge lies in making an appealing wearable band device with robust support of health and fitness features and services. This requires vendors to have a long-term strategy surrounding health and fitness analytics, which is often neglected by emerging players. Vendors should view this as a long-term journey where they can aim to solve users’ real-life issues related to health, especially when new sensors allow for tracking of biometrics such as blood pressure or even glucose levels,” added Low.

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