International Data Corporation (IDC) recently published its Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker for the last quarter of 2020. The report also summarized global wearables shipment data for the full year. Despite COVID-19, and due in part to the pandemic, global shipment of wearables increased significantly in 2020. Overall 2020 shipments amounted to 444.7 million units, a 28.4% increase from 2019.

COVID-19 played several roles in wearable device shipments in 2020, according to IDC. In addition to influencing consumers to spend more on devices than on leisure activities away from home, the pandemic drove sales of health sensors that tracked biometrics such as temperature, ECG, and heart rates. Also, as more people focused on in-home fitness activities rather than going to gyms and health clubs, fitness tracker sales grew.

Hearables led the wearables market shipments last year, accounting for 64.2% of all shipments. IDC’s definition of hearables does not include simple headphones or earbuds. To be considered a hearable, the device has to serve other purposes such as hearing assistance, audio enhancement, health and fitness tracking, or digital smart assistance. Watches accounted for 24.1% and wristbands accounted for 11.5% of global wearable device shipments.

For the full year, the five wearable device companies with the greatest shipment volumes were Apple (151.4 million shipments, 34.1% market share), Xiaomi (50.7 million shipments, 11.4% share), Huawei (43.5 million shipments, 9.8% share), Samsung (40.0 million shipments, 9.0% share), and Fitbit (12.9 million shipments, 2.9% share).