This should be good news for the Apple Watch and AirPod lines: after declining for the first time ever in 2022, worldwide shipments of wearable devices are forecast to rebound in 2023, reaching a total of 504.1 million units, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
This represents 2.4% year-over-year growth, driven by sustained demand for the most popular products –earwear and smartwatches – while other products hold steady. Looking ahead, IDC expects the market will see several years of single-digit growth with shipments reaching 629.4 million units in 2027 and resulting in a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.0%.
The research group says that earwear will remain the largest product category throughout the forecast as new users seek out their first set and current users upgrade from devices purchased in 2020 and 2021, when earwear shipments reached their peak.
IDC says smartwatches will experience market-beating growth as users transition from wristbands to smartwatches and, in some cases, from basic smartwatches to advanced smartwatches. Despite downward pressure from smartwatches, wristbands are not expected to disappear from the market as these devices will continue to appeal to users seeking simpler solutions. Meanwhile, all other wearable categories – including clothing, rings, glasses that do not feature augmented or virtual reality, and others – will trend up and to the right albeit from a much smaller base.
“Despite the ongoing challenges in the macroeconomy, demand for wearables will push the market back into growth mode,” says Ramon T. Llamas, research director with IDC’s Wearables team. “We still anticipate new devices to come out later this year and these will coincide with replacement purchases for those who acquired a new device several years ago. This sets up a virtuous cycle for future purchases in the coming years resulting in continued growth for the overall market.”