Apple sprints into second place in wearables as smart watches catch on

4 Dec 2015

Fitness bands still rule the roost but just a few quarters after launching the Apple Watch, the California tech giant is in second place

Fitness bands still rule the roost but, just a few quarters after launching the Apple Watch, the California tech giant is in second place while Fitbit was still the highest shipping wearables vendor in Q3, according to IDC.

According to IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker data, total shipment volume for the quarter came to 21m units, up 197.6pc from the 7.1m units shipped in 3Q 2014.

“The early stages of the wearables market have led to tight competition among the leading vendors, and Chinese vendors have seized upon market momentum to grab market share,” noted Ramon Llamas , research manager for IDC’s wearables team.

“China has quickly emerged as the fastest-growing wearables market, attracting companies eager to compete on price and feature sets. In addition, multiple vendors have experimented with a broad range of products and applications. The challenge, however, is whether these vendors can expand their presence, as few have extended beyond the country’s borders and into other markets.”

Smart watches and fit bands happily co-exist … for now

IDC noted that while there has been clear growth in the wearables market, there has been little sign of product cannibalisation.

Smart watches have drawn increased attention to the market from the likes of Apple, Motorola, Pebble and Samsung, but this has not dampened interest in fitness trackers.

By the end of Q3 2015, shipment volumes for both product categories had increased sequentially and year-over-year, showing that, for now, the categories can co-exist and grow.

“The bifurcation doesn’t just exist in features, but also in price,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC mobile device trackers.

“The average smart watch or band came in at just over $400 and the average basic watch/band at $94. This leaves a lot of room for new players like Fossil and niche players like Pebble as they have an opportunity to address this space,” Ubrani said.

Who are the giants in wearables?


Fitbit relied on its popular Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Surge models to maintain its leadership in the worldwide wearables market, and also saw continued growth within the Asia-Pacific and EMEA markets.

Apple posted a slight increase from the previous quarter, mostly the result of additional markets and channels coming on line.

End-user attention has been going toward its entry-level and least expensive Sport line, to which Apple responded by introducing gold and rose gold models.

In addition, Apple released watchOS 2, bringing native third-party applications to the device.

Xiaomi’s inexpensive Mi Band buoyed volumes higher during the quarter, with more than 97pc of its volumes shipping into China. Volumes outside of China remain limited, although progress has been made in western markets. Adding to Xiaomi’s selection is its Mi Band Pulse, which added real-time heart-rate monitoring and was released on Singles Day (11 November) in China.

Chinese vendor XTC, a subsidiary of BBK, beat Samsung for the number five position by 100,000 units in its worldwide debut.

Like other Chinese vendors before it, XTC maintained its focus exclusively within China, and with just one device: the Y01, a children’s phone watch.

Apple Watch image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years