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Wearables sales slacken as the novelty wears off

In this economy, who has $800 to spend on a watch?

Sales of wearable computers fell 6.9 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2022, according to analyst outfit IDC.

While 107.4 million devices still made it out of the factory, IDC believes demand has been depressed by inflation, fears of a recession, and increased spending on other non-tech categories.

The market may also have peaked after what IDC described as “the hyper growth that the wearables market has experienced in the last two years.”

A certain pandemic meant those two years were ones in which plenty of punters’ disposable income could not be disposed of on experiences like travel or dining out but could be employed to acquire shiny gadgets to be sent home. Or practical gadgets for a work from home lifestyle such as what IDC calls “earwear”, a category that saw shipments rise by almost 30 percent in 2021 but for which sales are flat in 2022.

IDC suggests the market was even worse for basic digital wristbands, demand for which dipped 20 percent in 2021 and then dived even deeper in the first half of 2022.

"It's unfortunate that companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google are in the midst of launching more premium smartwatches at a time when appetite for high priced products remains in question," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. "And even though pricing on some new products remains the same as the previous generation, the strength of the US dollar makes the purchase more difficult in local currencies around the world."

The analyst firm believes shipments of wearables will be flat in 2022 at around 535.5 million units, with growth to return to the smartwatch and hearable markets as they reach new buyers in emerging markets and punters in mature markets replace dead or obsolete products.

Apple continues to dominate the wearables market, with 25 percent market share in Q2 2022 representing a quarter-on-quarter drop of six percent that can be explained away by the buyers sensibly waiting for the recent launch of new models in its Watch range.

Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi all have similar market share.

Indian company Imagine Marketing, which offers well-priced wearables bearing the brand “boAt” is the planet’s fifth-most-prolific wearable vendor. ®

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