Apple in the lead as global wearables market grows 10% in 2017
According to a study from International Data Corporation (IDC), American technology multinational Apple Inc. elbowed out competitors Fitbit and Xiaomi to claim the top spot in the global wearables market for both Q4 and full year 2017, as growth in the sector slows but shows no sign of stopping.
It is the first time that Apple has held the position of market leader to itself, having played runner up to San Francisco-based Fitbit and Chinese electronics company Xiaomi in previous quarters.
In the fourth quarter 2017, Apple took first place with shipment volumes totalling 8 million units, commanding a 21% market share, a 57.5% increase compared to the same period in the previous year. Fitbit and Xiaomi came in second and third place, respectively, the former shipping 5.4 million units and commanding 14.2% market share (-17.3%), the latter shipping 4.9 million units and accounting for 13% market share (-4.5%).
Huawei, which took fifth place on the leader board, behind Garmin, achieved the highest growth of the top five brands, registering a 93.2% increase in fourth-quarter market share compared to the same period in 2016.
For the full year 2017, Apple had a market share of 15.3%, a 55.9% increase over 2016, while Xiaomi and Fitbit followed close behind with market shares of 13.6% and 13.3%, respectively.
Overall, total global shipment volumes of wearable devices reached 37.9 million units in the fourth quarter 2017, a 7.7% increase from the 35.2 million units shipped in the same period in the previous year. For the full year 2017, shipment volumes rose 10.3%, increasing to 115.4 million units, from 2016’s total of 104.6 million.
“The 10.3% year-over-year growth in 2017 is a marked decline from the 27.3% growth we saw in 2016”, stated Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team in a release. “The slowdown is not due to a lack of interest – far from it. Instead, we saw numerous vendors, relying on older models, exit the market altogether. At the same time, the remaining vendors – including multiple start-ups – have not only replaced them, but with devices, features, and services that have helped make wearables more integral in people's lives.”
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, commented, “Although prices for individual products has slowly declined, consumer preferences have shifted to more sophisticated devices and towards well recognized brands. It's due to this that the wearables market has seen healthy double-digit growth in average selling prices since 2016,” going on to point out the potential in selling added software and services.
With consumers on the lookout for more sophisticated products, the top three wearables brands are diversifying their strategies to attract buyers. While Apple has been able to appeal to consumers increasingly favoring devices with mobile connectivity with select Series 3 Watches, Fitbit has been multiplying its partnerships with healthcare brands and authorities in an attempt to secure its place in the market with a fitness-centered model.
Xiaomi released the MiBand HRX watch last year, as well as a smart shoe and a second kids’ watch, but much of the company’s profit is still tied to its MiBand 2 model, while its operations remain largely focused on China, with under 15% of its volumes being shipped abroad.
The full report from the Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker can be consulted on IDC’s website.
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