IT Trends

Wearables See Major Jump as New Form Factors Emerge

Wearables are seeing a huge surge in growth. The total number of smart wearable devices shipped in the first quarter of 2021 grew by more than 34% over the same quarter in 2020.

That brought the worldwide total of wearables shipments to 104.6 million in the first three months of the year, up from 77.8 million last year. This marks the first time shipments have topped 100 million in the first quarter, according to market research firm IDC.

Growth was driven in large part by a plethora of relatively minor players in the wearables market, though the top manufacturers — Apple and Samsung — saw significant growth as well.

Growth is also being fueled by the emergence of new form factors — aside from just the usual watches and bands.

Said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers: "Wearable patches, rings, and even audio glasses are starting to differentiate themselves from the typical watches, bands, and headphones by offering tech that is hidden yet functional. Audio glasses from the likes of Bose, Amazon, Razer, and others are also going a step further by allowing consumers to be more comfortable with being always connected and are working towards consumer acceptance of AR glasses further down the line."

Four of the top 5 brands saw at least double-digit growth in the quarter. (

  1. Apple shipped 30.1 million units, up 19.8% year over year;

  2. Samsung shipped 11.8 million units, up 35.7%;

  3. Xiaomi actually declined by 1.8% versus last year, shipping 10.2 million units;

  4. Huawei shipped 8.6 million units, up 31.1%; and

  5. BoAt shipped 3 million units, up 326.8%.

Interestingly, the “other” manufacturers accounted for 39.1% of the total market and increased unit shipments by a whopping 55% over last year, for a total of 40.9 million units.

Further information can be found on IDC’s Quarterly Wearables Tracker.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).