Shipments of fitness trackers and smartwatches soared to a record 22.5 million in the second quarter of 2016. This was up over a quarter on the same period in the previous year according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
The figures show contrasting fortunes of various market segments. Fitness tracker shipments grew by nearly a half year-on-year, while at the same time smartwatches declined by 27%.
“Fitness is the low-hanging fruit for wearables,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.
“However, the market is evolving and we’re starting to see consumers adopt new functionality, such as communication and mobile payments, while enterprises warm to wearables’ productivity potential.”
“Basic wearables, which include most fitness trackers, have benefited from a combination of factors: a clear value proposition for end-users, an abundant selection of devices from multiple vendors, and affordable price points,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Wearables.
Fitness trackers accounted for 83% of all wearable devices shipped during the second quarter. However, as more vendors enter this space, there is a danger of over-saturation in an increasingly crowded market. Also, we are seeing devices that end up being copycats of others, with design being the only differentiating factor.
“Smart wearables, meanwhile, are still struggling to find their place in the market,” added Llamas.
“There is plenty of curiosity about what smart wearables – particularly smartwatches – can do, but they have yet to convince users that they are a must-have item. The good news is that smart wearables are still in their initial stages and vendors are slowly making strides to improve them.”
In terms of individual vendors, Fitbit remains the dominant force despite an increase in competition. The latest Charge 2 and Flex 2 trackers, which are due to begin shipping in a couple of weeks time, are likely to reafirm its dominance in the coming months.
Xiaomi Mi Bands remain extremely popular in China. The recent launch of the Mi Band 2 and gradual expansion in Western markets should help it maintain its second place position.
Apple is the only manufacturer which has seen a decline in its share over the year. The Cupertino company has not released a new model since the release of the Apple Watch, and this was reflected in its share of the market. With the new Apple Watch announced today (that features GPS, waterproofing and a 50% faster processor), the manufacturer should see a pick-up in sales in the coming weeks and months.
Garmin and Lifesense were best of the rest. Garmin has consistently been in the top five in recent years. The company is slowly expanding its product range and consumer presence. Lifesense has broken into the top five for the first time on the strength of its low-cost Mambo fitness trackers shipping into China.
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