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Wearable device shipments slow as consumers shift to smartwatches

The wearable market has continued to grow in Q1 2018, albeit at a slower pace according to IDC. Smartwatches are now leading the way as consumers shift away from basic wearables.

The report, published Monday says global shipments of wearables totaled 25.1 million in the first three months of the year, up 1.2% on Q1 2017. This was much slower compared to the whopping 18% year-on-year increase we saw in the same period last year.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

The slowdown was primarily due to the 9.2% decline in shipments of basic wearables. By contrast, Apple and other smartwatch makers saw an increase of 28.4%. Its worth pointing out, IDC figures tally up the number of units available for sale in inventories, not the number that have actually been sold. Also, we are dealing here with volumes rather than prices. Smartwatches typically cost more than basic wearables so the growth by value is likely to be much higher than the 1.2% increase in volume.

The top five wearables players by market share at the end of the first quarter were Apple (16.1% up from 14.3% last year), Xiaomi (14.8% up from 14.6%), Fitbit (8.7% down from 12.2%), Huawei (5.2% up from 2.1%) and Garmin (5.0% up from 4.6%). Fitbit will be hoping the new Versa watch will boost its fortunes. The San Francisco outfit announced this week it has shifted over 1 million devices since its launch in early April.

wearables growth slows as consumers shift to smartwatches - Wearable device shipments slow as consumers shift to smartwatches

“With the move towards smarter devices, we’re also starting to see hints of where the wearables market is headed,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

“Additional sensors, years of underlying data, and improved algorithms are allowing pillars of the industry like Fitbit and Apple to help identify diseases and other health irregularities. Meanwhile, roughly one third of all wearables included cellular connectivity this quarter, which has allowed new use-cases to emerge.”

Going forward, IDC expects health and fitness to remain the key value proposition. Hearables that focus on coaching, audio modification and language translation will also be attractive, as will personal safety devices and wearables for kids.

Smart clothing has seen a huge 58.6% year-on-year increase in Q1 2018 adds IDC. But this was from a much lower base as compared to smartwatches and fitness trackers. The segment, which includes intelligent shirts, shorts socks and shoes, currently only accounts for about 5% of all shipments.

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