Shipments of wearable devices continued to rise in the third quarter of 2016, according to data from the International Data Corporation, (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. This was in contrast to the smartwatch segment which fell in popularity during this period.
The overall wearables market increased 3.1% year-on-year with total units shipped reaching a record 23 million in Q3 2016. Simplicity was very much in demand. Dedicated fitness devices saw double-digit growth and were the top selling item commanding a whopping 85% of the market. IDC says much of the increase stemmed from the launch of newer models, such as the Fitbit Charge 2 and Flex 2, along with an expanding user base.
This was bad news for Apple, which saw wearable shipments fall 71% to 1.1 million units in Q3. Despite this, it remained the best selling smartwatch.
“It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market,” IDC said.
“Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme.”
Fitbit was the market leader one again having increased its market share by a couple of percentage points to 23.0% of global shipments. It was followed by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, Garmin, Apple and Samsung.
“Simplicity is a driving factor,” IDC added,
“and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device.”
The Cupertino outfit was the only major wearable vendor to see a decline in growth. This is not entirely surprising, considering the release of its highly-anticipated Apple Watch Series 2 was near the end of the quarter, and consumers may have waited to make their purchase. IDC does not seem convinced and sees further challenges for the smartwatch category in the near term.
“The primary reasons for the downturn were an aging lineup and an unintuitive user interface,” IDC said.
“Though both issues have been addressed with the latest generation watches, Apple’s success will likely be muted as the smartwatch category continues to be challenged.”
The market research company expects sales to stay strong as the holiday season approaches.
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