boAt helped make smartwatches affordable for Indians. That’s now come to bite it

boAt’s market share slipped to 14% in 2023 from nearly 19% in the previous year while rivals Fire Boltt and Noise secured the top two positions.
boAt’s market share slipped to 14% in 2023 from nearly 19% in the previous year while rivals Fire Boltt and Noise secured the top two positions.


  • The consumer electronics firm has decided to take it slow on wearables, and instead focus on premium categories and ramping up its domestic manufacturing capacity

At a time when smartwatches and earpods were still aspirational accessories for most Indians, boAt helped transform the domestic market for wearables and wireless audio sets by unleashing a range of affordable devices.

The startup began gaining prominence as it built up its market share. But as more Indians began using smartwatches and earpods that weren’t from Garmin or Apple, more domestic companies saw an opportunity in making affordable wearables with the entry barriers lowered.

“You can now buy a smartwatch for 999. It’s unheard of anywhere in the world," boAt’s co-founder and CEO Sameer Mehta told Mint, adding that the company has decided to downsize its wearables business.

boAt’s market share in smartwatches slipped to 14% in 2023 from nearly 19% in the previous year, while rivals Fire Boltt and Noise secured the top two positions, as per estimates by market intelligence firm IDC. 

In wearables, boAt also faces stiff competition from Tata Group’s Titan and Pristyn Care’s BeatXP, which has forced the company to reassess its playbook.

“The average selling price over the last two years has tanked by about 68-70% in this space which isn’t sustainable," said Mehta, adding that the slump in market growth has pushed the company to “take it slow".

Founded in 2016 by Mehta and Aman Gupta, boAt’s earphones and smartwatches rose in popularity marked by its affordable prices, successfully penetrating a country with price-conscious users. 

boAt is backed by marquee investors such as Warburg Pincus and Qualcomm Ventures, and has secured upwards of $170 million in private funding till date at unicorn valuation.

Also read | BoAt  raises  $60 mn, freezes plan for IPO

In October 2022, the consumer electronics firm shelved plans to raise 2,000 crore through an initial public offering citing tough market conditions.

The public-listing plan is still 18-20 months away, Mehta said, stating that the firm wants to perfect its internal metrics first.

Focus on audio

boAt will now steer its focus towards audio — which contributes more than 80% of the total revenue — while it figures out how to regain momentum in wearables, Mehta noted. 

While the firm projects business from audio products to grow by roughly 15% next year, it is expecting a haircut in top line growth in the wearables segment.

In the true wireless stereo (TWS) segment, boAt is a market leader, as per estimates by IDC.

While hearables are perceived as a consumer tech product, consumers still perceive smartwatches as a fashion accessory, according to Anshika Jain, senior analyst at market research firm Counterpoint Research.

“With declining profit margins, downscaling seems like the right move for now. The brand can align its resources in the hearables segment where the brand is leading by far and can compete with other players," the analyst added.

Differentiation is key

According to Mehta, innovation will play a crucial role in creating differentiation in the smartwatch category. To this end, the company has partnered with digital navigation provider MapMyIndia to offer maps on its smartwatch. 

“We got a product where you can do turn-by-turn navigation without having GPS at about 10% premium over entry price point on a 1,300-1500 watch," Mehta said.

It is also working on QR codes and smartwatch-enabled payments along with a GPS lock feature for children among other things. 

Also read | Govt weighs PLI in wearables; move may boost localization

“The idea is to build something very different rather than simply going to China and bringing some random hardware and selling it. Because hardware by itself is too competitive a space. Unless you do software level differentiation, there is no right to win," Mehta said, adding that while most players have grown volumes beyond 100% in the last one year, the actual value growth is only about 2%.

“There will be players who will leave the market very soon. Only 3-4 firms will remain and we believe we can win in the space," he added.

boAt has also much to learn from its audio playbook. According to Counterpoint’s Jain, boAt’s growing ecosystem partnerships like the ones with global audio software maker Dolby has helped build trust and gain customer mindshare.


In a bid to elevate the average selling prices (ASP), the company in the last one year has introduced premium products in the audio and wearables category, ideating a slew of products in the pipeline.

“The idea is to take our ASPs up by about 20% this year. That’s a goal that we have internally and we are on track to achieve it," he said.

After years of operating at the price point of 1,600-1,800, boAt is now eyeing the 2,400-3,300 range in audio devices, Mehta added. 

In wearables, boAt will focus on creating “a good-looking smartwatch" with enhanced functionalities at the 3,000-4,000 price range.

“We have one launch happening on Amazon as we speak, called Airdopes 300, which is of superior quality at a price that enables us to fight the best companies out there including Chinese ODMs [original design manufacturers]. We have better products than them, essentially at about 10-15% delta on pricing, but with many more features," he said.

Mehta noted that as the products are engineered by the company in India, it has complete control over the stack and is able to add new features.

Going local

In FY23, boAt made record revenue of 3,377 crore, the same year it recorded its first-ever annual loss at 130 crore, largely because it moved a bulk of its manufacturing to India.

“We were a little underprepared to take on the complexities in manufacturing locally. Plus, with the wearables business not doing too well, it really hit us hard that year," Mehta noted.

However, boAt considers its ambition to “make in India" to be a significant growth driver going forward, with nearly 70% of its products already being manufactured locally, according to Mehta.

The company is also looking to expand its line of locally designed products, months after it developed intellectual property for a neckband collaboration with the IT ministry’s Centre of Excellence for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing.

“In the next two years, we are aiming to see at least 50% of boAt’s products designed in-house," Mehta said.

However, the brand should focus on introducing newer designs and specifications for locally manufactured devices, according to Counterpoint’s Jain. “The brand also needs to work on incorporating solid security measures to safeguard its customers."

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