India Is Now World’s Second Biggest Market For Wearables — And A Desi Brand Is By Far The Most Popular
Though international brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Realme Oppo and Apple compete, the wearables market is dominated by Made-in-India products.
Multiple analysts agree: India is one of the world’s biggest markets for wearable devices — sports bands, smart watches, earbuds and most recently smart rings — second only to the United States.
In fact, says Canalys in a mid-2023 survey: “The excelling performance of the Indian market, growing 122 per cent year-on-year, offset the 14 per cent annual decline across the globe.”
“India’s wearable band market is booming, having exceptional triple-digit growth in Q1 2023,” says Cynthia Chen, Research Manager at Canalys, adding, “Local vendors such as Fire Boltt, Noise and boAt are propelling the market forward with value-for-money focused strategies, capturing rising demand for basic watches.”
Says Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, "India has already surpassed the United States and China in terms of market size and will remain the largest market going forward thanks to the breadth of low-cost yet feature-rich devices from local vendors."
A 12 September study by Counterpoint Research adds, “The (India) growth was primarily driven by demand for low-priced models, increasingly affordable new launches, and seasonal sales. 81 per cent of India’s True Wireless Stereo shipments were dominated by products prices costing less than Rs 2,000 or $24.”
Dominated By Made-in-India Products
Interestingly, though international brands like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Realme Oppo and Apple compete, this is a market dominated by Made-in-India products.
“Domestic TWS production hits a record high, contributing over 50 per cent of India's total shipments, signalling a shift toward locally made products,” finds Counterpoint.
The market leader is desi brand boAt which maintained a commanding lead for 12 consecutive quarters, capturing 40 per cent of the India market.
Indian brands are making their mark when their sales are measured globally.
Says Canalys about global sales of wearables in the first three months of 2023: “The largest non-smartphone player, Fire Boltt, broke into the global top five vendors for the first time despite solely selling wearable bands in India. Its volume grew by a remarkable 198 per cent, driven by an extensive portfolio of competitively priced devices.”
So much for the numbers: Indians seem to prefer Indian brands because of aggressive pricing — TWS earbuds — the most popular category can be had for around Rs 1,000 — while multi-function health-cum-sports wristware cost Rs 3,000 or less.
But can low priced devices alone sustain India’s dominant position?
Cynthia Chen cautions: “Relying solely on entry-level hardware will be insufficient to sustain strong volumes in the long term. To create upgrade opportunities, vendors must adapt to changing consumer demands for improved features and integrated device experiences.”
This is already happening:
A World-First Device
A Bengaluru-based tech start-up Muse Wearables, born out of the IIT Madras Incubation Cell, has developed a smart ring equipped with advanced health tracking and ‘on-the-go payments’ (contactless payments), in addition to cuﬀ-less blood pressure measurement.
Called ‘Ring One’, it represents a breakthrough innovation in wearable technology and claims to be the world’s first device that combines health and payment features.
The product is set for launch on 27 September 2023 globally and on 25 October 2023, in India and the company’s website is taking pre-bookings.
With a simple wave of the palm, Ring One can complete payment transactions with ease.
Muse has partnered with some of the biggest payment networks including Mastercard, VISA and Rupay to make payments with the Ring accessible to everyone across the world. The payments will be live in India, USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore and U.A.E.
Healthwise the device measures heart rate, SpO2 (oxygen), blood pressure, skin temperature, heart rate variability and respiratory rate.
In a highly competitive market, brands like Boult, Crossbeats, Cult.Sport, Fire Boltt, U&I, Noise and Ptron, continuously upscale their offerings to differentiate themselves — not an easy task.
Recent launches from these companies have included the following:
Boult has launched W40 (Rs 1,399), a TWS earwear that features a quad mike and 45 millisecond latency, ideal for gaming.
Crossbeats has launched Monarch smartwatch (Rs 2,999), which offers a voice assistant, enabling users to multitask effortlessly. You can choose from over 100 watch face designs.
Khakhi-3 from U&I (Rs 2,199), is a wireless neckband offering 40 hours backup and passive noise cancellation.
Active T from Cult.sport (Rs 1,999) has special features for women like menstrual cycle calculator.
Noise has ventured into smart rings. Luna Ring measures 70 biometric signals from your finger to give a comprehensive view on body fundamentals.
Reflect Ace from pTron (Rs 1,299), offers over 120 sports modes, catering to fitness enthusiasts.
Boult founders, brothers Varun and Tarun Gupta, have invested in an research and development centre in Gurugram and among the first fruits of their research is Boult’s fast-charging technology for the audio products, which provides 36-48 hours on a single charge while a 10-minute quick charge provides 100 minutes of usage.
By adding noise cancellation and very low latency, many Indian TWS device makers are wooing the mobile gaming community.
Continuous innovation is the price of leadership — and Indian players in wearables seem ready and willing to do just that.
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