A new report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that the global market for wearables grew 31.4 percent during Q4, reaching 59.3 million units shipped, while shipments for the year grew 27.5 percent to reach a total of 172.2 million. Apple also took the top spot in Q4, with 16.2 million wearables shipped — 10.4 million of them Apple Watches.
In addition, smartwatches grew 54.3 percent last year, and accounted for 29.8 percent of all wearables. Apple Watches comprised nearly half of that market.
"The Series 4 has been off to a very strong start, and IDC anticipates this to continue as more healthcare organizations and consumers adopt the latest device. The remainder of Apple's shipments were comprised of AirPods and Beats headphones in the ear-worn category," according to the IDC.
Xiaomi came in second for wearables, with a 12.6 percent share. The company's products are still strong in its home country of China, but it has made strides in Europe and other Asian countries. Xiaomi's Mi Band 3 accounted for over 30 percent of all wrist bands shipped during Q4 2018.
Huawei grew 43 percent during Q4, thanks to product launches such as the Watch GT and FreeBuds 2 Pro. Fitbit returned to growth during the holiday season with the new Charge 3, while Samsung had 4 million units shipped during the quarter.
The data also revealed that ear-worn devices grew 66.4 percent, and made up 21.9 percent of the market.
"The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past year, and we expect this to continue in the years to come," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst of IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "It is the next battleground for companies as these types of headphones become a necessity for many, given the exclusion of headphone jacks from modern devices. Add to that the rise of smart assistants and in-ear biometrics, and companies have the perfect formula to sell consumers on a device that's complimentary to the device ecosystem that lives on their wrist and in their pocket."