Wearables sales skyrocket, fuelled by Apple Watch, Xiaomi and Fitbit

IDC is out today with its latest data on the connected wearable devices market. The survey shows that wearables sales put in a strong performance in Q4, fuelled by the growing popularity of fitness trackers and the Apple Watch.

Essential reading: Choosing the right Fitbit tracker

According to the report, vendors shipped a total of 27.4 million units during the holiday quarter, up by 127% during the same period the previous year. Overall, vendors shipped a total of 78.1 million units in 2015, up a an impresive 172% over 2014.

“Triple-digit growth highlights growing interest in the wearables market from both end-users and vendors,” noted Ramon Llamas, Research Manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “It shows that wearables are not just for the technophiles and early adopters; wearables can exist and are welcome in the mass market. And since wearables have yet to fully penetrate the mass market, there is still plenty of room for growth in multiple vectors: new vendors, form factors, applications, and use cases. This will help propel the market further.

“It’s also worth noting that the wearables market isn’t just about smartwatches and fitness bands,” continued Ubrani. “Though the top 5 certainly dominate with wrist-worn devices, there’s been an immense amount of growth in other form factors like clothing, footwear, and eyewear – form factors that arguably require even more fashion sense than watches or bands.”

Fitbit is still the undisputed market leader with 21 million unit shipments and a 27% share of the global market in 2015. Its share of wearables sales was, however, well down from 38% in the previous year. The big gainers in 2015 were Apple with the 1st generation of its smartwatch, and Xiaomi which increased its global market share from 4% to 15.4% during the year.

Apple has not publicly released sales figures for its Apple Watch, but IDC estimated the company sold 4.1 million in the fourth quarter and 11.6 million for the year. Apple CEO Tim Cook said last month that Apple Watch sales set a “new quarterly record” for the final three months of 2015 and were “especially strong” in December. Expectations are higher for the next-generation Watch that can leverage the company’s platforms and connectivity capabilities.

Xiaomi has recently expanded into the US and Europe, which means that shoppers in these countries can now purchase the Mi Band, which has sold in excess of 1 million units over in China – and retails for less than $20. The company has recently released the Mi Band 1S – the same ultra cheap fitness tracker that now uses a light-based PPG sensor to measure your body’s blood flow.

Garmin’s long history with wearable fitness translated well for the company to remain among the top five vendors worldwide. Garmin has a well-segmented device portfolio, with devices that specifically address various activities. Recently the company announced the Vivoactive HR and Vivofit 3 devices, which will undoubtedly propel their sales this year.

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