Wearables segment sees steady growth
Thailand's shipments of wearables grew 47.3% year-on-year to 3.46 million units in 2020 despite the pandemic as Chinese smartphone vendors made forays into this segment, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), a tech market research firm.
The growth was supported by strong uptake of earwear, which grew 97% to 1.3 million units in 2020.
In the fourth quarter last year, shipments of wearables dropped 15.6% year-on-year to 788,000 units in Thailand, due to spikes in Covid-19 cases.
"Despite the third wave of the pandemic in Thailand, we believe the overall wearable market will achieve double-digit growth this year, driven by earwear that supports entertainment as well as people working and studying online," said Teerit Paowan, a market analyst for mobile devices at IDC Thailand.
Spending on smartwatches will continue as Chinese smartwatch makers launch products that cost between 3,000-4,000 baht, while international brands come up with attractive designs for lifestyle products, he said.
"Smartwatches, which come with a tracking feature and are designed for everyday usage, will not feel the impact of the pandemic as much as brands that offer full features more suited to hardcore users that are likely to have less outdoor activities," said Mr Teerit.
"Thailand's smartwatch market is driven by a health trend as consumers demand more features such as blood oxygen measurement and ECGs [electrocardiograms]. We see more health features being offered by various vendors amid the pandemic."
He said lifestyle product design is a key factor consumers consider.
"The race to complete an ecosystem for smartphone vendors, especially among the Chinese, will not only lead to growth, but also make the market more competitive," said Mr Teerit.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, earwear shipments slightly dropped by a quarter because of high shipments in previous quarters, said IDC.
Inventory is in surplus for brands such as Mi Earbuds Basic S and Galaxy Buds Live, while shortages are reported by key vendors for Apple AirPods and Huawei FreeBuds Pro.
However, on an annual basis earwear grew thanks to budget-friendly Chinese True Wireless Stereo (TWS) headphones and the popularity of its noise-cancelling feature.
Meanwhile, wristbands maintained their momentum and posted a year-over-year increase thanks to Mi band 5 and Fitbit Charge 4, reported IDC.
In 2020, the wristband market grew 47.3% to 1.08 million units.
The smartwatch market declined in the fourth quarter of 2020 year-on-year as Covid-19 cases spiked in late December, raising concerns about outdoor activities.