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Samsung is slowly clawing back Apple's wearables market lead

It'll take quite a while to topple the Cupertino giant at the current rate, though.

Published onDecember 7, 2021

An image of the Apple Watch Series 7 vs the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
  • According to IDC, global wearable and audio shipments grew slightly in Q3 2021.
  • Data suggests Apple saw a noticeable drop in Apple Watch shipments in the quarter, while Samsung gained market share.
  • Xiaomi remained the sector’s third-biggest player despite shipping four million fewer devices year-over-year.

This year has been challenging for tech companies as chipset supply constraints hit smartphone shipment figures hard. It seems wearable makers weren’t exempt from these pressures, either. According to new data from IDC, global smartwatch and audio product shipments increased marginally by 9.9% in Q3 2021. Notably, the research firm also includes audio products in its figures.

Although Apple continued to lead the wearables segment quite comfortably in the quarter, it saw a sizeable market share slump, dipping from 32.8% in Q3 2020 to 28.8% in Q3 2021. Despite this decrease, Apple still claimed more than half of the value share of the wearables market. While the Apple Watch Series 7 wasn’t outlined as a strong performer, IDC does suggest that AirPods and Beats products remain excellent sellers for the company.

Samsung benefitted the most from Apple’s decline and enjoyed a stellar quarter. It joined Xiaomi as the second biggest wearables maker in Q3 2021, posting a 13.8% year-over-year growth. The Galaxy Watch 4 series largely buoyed Samsung’s figures. IDC also highlighted Samsung’s tendency to bundle its products as a core reason for its shipments spike.

Although Xiaomi held 9.2% of the market share alongside Samsung, the company saw a 23.8% year-over-year decline in shipments. However, IDC notes that more consumers consider cheaper smartwatches over fitness bands. With a pretty vast affordable wearables offering, we expect Xiaomi to recover in the coming quarters.

Finally, HUAWEI was the other big winner this quarter. The company saw a nominal 3.7% year-over-year growth, largely thanks to its audio products. IDC notes its smartwatch shipments saw a 5% decline in Q3 2021.