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Healthcare awareness among consumers drive wearables market in MEA

(Image credit: Future)

The wearables market, which includes ear-worn devices, smartwatches and smartbands, is gaining traction as people are becoming health and wellness conscious.

Ayse Kaptanoglu, a research manager at International Data Corporation, said that numerous new use cases are beginning to gain traction and end-users are increasingly now able to see the real health and fitness benefits that wearables can provide.

Heart rate sensors, GPS tracking, and pedometers are among the most attractive functionalities spurring demand in the market, she said.

The Middle East and Africa market grew 144.43% year on year in the second quarter of this year to 1.96m units and worth $278.04m in value.

The top three players – Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi – together accounted for 61% share of the market's unit shipments.

Apple increased its market share from 15.2% in the second quarter of last year to 27.4% in this quarter while Xiaomi doubled its market share from 7.8% to 16% during the second quarter. Samsung’s shipments slipped from 22.3% to 17.6% during the quarter.

Isam Arshad, research analyst at Euromonitor International, said that the wearables market is expected to grow by 10% in value in the UAE this year and it is the fastest-growing sector among consumer electronics.

Hearables are fastest-growing category

Kaptanoglu said that increasing demand for fitness and sports devices, an increase in healthcare awareness among consumers, and the launch of new products have all combined to drive the growth of the wearables market for both wristbands and smartwatches.

Among the wearables, she said that ear-worn devices, also known as hearables, were among the fastest-growing category during the second quarter as their share has grown from 16% in the second quarter of last year to 36.5% in the second quarter of this year.

Kaptanoglu believes that improved internet connectivity is the key driver of growth for the smartwatch segment, as well as the increase in SIM card usage that enables end-users to transform their smartwatches into mobile phones.

Despite the ongoing economic turbulence that is impacting some countries across the region, she said that rapid advancements in hearable technology will trigger further demand for this technology, particularly among the region's growing young population.

 "While the overall wearables market will continue to grow on the back of this trend, the true growth potential of the region's wearables market will be restricted by issues such as high costs and rising prices, limited LTE connectivity in most MEA countries, and the rapid discharge of batteries in these devices," she said.