Smartwatches and headphones in crisis

Have you recently bought a smartwatch, band and/or headphones? If not, it’s not just your fault. Interest in this type of device is surprisingly (unexpectedly) low. What is happening on the market for these usually not very expensive devices?

Surprisingly little interest in smartwatches

According to data from Canalys, the overall wearables segment shrank by 5% in 2022 compared to the previous year. This was largely due to the fact that 2022 saw up to 39% fewer base straps shipped as, at the same time, “base watch” shipment volumes increased by 21% and smartwatches by 3% (the lowest year-on-year increase since 2019) . However, this has not prevented the entire segment from declining compared to 2021.

Source: Canalys

2022 was the toughest year for Xiaomi, which shipped 41% more wearables than the previous year. Large declines were also observed at Google (-22% y/y) and Huawei (-21% y/y). Other TOP 5 manufacturers fared better, although only Apple reported a 5% increase in shipments while Samsung fell 4%.

But the fourth quarter itself didn’t spare anyone – everyone delivered fewer wearables to the market than in the same period last year. Again, Xiaomi (-46%) was the biggest loser, followed by Huawei (-42%) and Samsung (-35%). Google (-25%) and Apple (-17%) scored “best”. Here, as a curiosity, you can add that Google shipped 880,000 units of Pixel Watch in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Wearables shipments in 2021 and 2022 Apple Xiaomi Huawei Samsung Google Canalys
Source: Canalys

As Canalys notes, interest in simple bracelets is steadily declining, so it’s not surprising that Q4 2022 was similar. The same is expected to be the case in 2023, while “basic watches” and smartwatches have better prospects – they’re expected to see shipments rise by 6% and 8% (respectively). Overall, however, the wearables market is expected to grow by “a modest 2%” in 2023.

The year 2022 also took its toll on headphone manufacturers

Manufacturers would like to forget the end of 2022 as quickly as possible, because in the fourth quarter of last year, a full 26% fewer headphones of all types were shipped than a year earlier (112.1 million in total) – 23% fewer true wireless, 36 % fewer wireless earbuds and 25% fewer wireless earbuds. The most serious is the decline in GRP shipments, which have so far driven the growth of the entire segment.

TWS wireless headphones supply market from Q1 2021 to Q4 2022 in individual markets around the world, source Canalys
Source: Canalys

In the course of 2022, a total of 2% fewer truly wireless headphones were shipped – of the TOP 5 largest manufacturers, only the boAt brand increased shipments by a full 52% compared to the previous year. Other manufacturers ie Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi and Skullcandy less than 2021 (by 1%, 10%, 34% and 15% respectively). Added Beats headphones for Apple and Harman headphones for Samsung.

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