Wearables have seen a ton of hardware advancements in the past few years, with features like temperature-sensing and blood pressure monitoring now available on high-end smartwatches. However, it seems that new data points to lessened adoption of smartwatches and wearable bands in 2022, despite the addition of new functionality.
Research firm Canalys recently published its latest estimates on the wearable band market, which shows that sales of wearables have declined last year. More specifically, Q4 2022 saw an 18% shipment decline (around 50 million units), marking the first double-digit decline for the market compared to previous Q4 numbers. Smartwatch sales also saw a double-digit decline of 17%, with more basic bands on a ninth consecutive decline with a 43% drop, with a 3% growth for basic watches in India.
Apple experienced a 17% decline compared to a strong quarter back in 2021 after returning to its regular launch schedule. Meanwhile, Google rose to second place (despite falling 25% to weak Fitbit shipments) as it was able to soften its decline with 16% smartwatch growth with the launch of the Pixel Watch, a considerably impressive feat.
Other brands such as Xiaomi, Huawei and Samsung all experienced big declines as well, with Samsung falling to fifth place, ending Q4 with a 35% decline, which Canalys attributes to the iterative update of the Galaxy Watch 5 series. Despite this however, data shows that Apple, Samsung and Huawei maintained annual growth in 2022. According to Canalys Analyst Cynthia Chen:
“The wearable band market is expected to grow at a modest 2% in 2023. While we expect basic bands to continue declining, basic watches and smartwatches will grow, but growth will be capped below 10%. Vendors remain vigilant and will emphasize quality rather than quantity given some recovery in consumer spending.”
Canalys adds that it expects smartwatches (with 8% growth) to do better compared to basic watch (with a 6% growth). In 2022 overall, smartwatches grew 3%, basic watches rose 21%, and basic bands fell 39%, leading to the whole wearable band market declining by 5%.