The wearable market is alive and well, despite some negative press and a number of journalists questioning their utility and necessity. In fact, fitness trackers and smartwatches are selling better then ever according to figures just released by the IDC.
Shipments for the fourth quarter totaled 33.9 million units, up nearly 17% on the same period in 2015. The stats show even more impressive full year growth. Shipments increased by 25% in 2016 to reach 102.4 million units, a new all-time high. IDC says this is a result of new vendors entering the market and previous champions refreshing their product lineups.
As expected, Fitbit was still number one, both in Q4 and for the full year. Its 2016 share, however, declined by some 5% to 22% as Xiaomi and other low-cost vendors closed in. More worryingly, Fitbit’s share dropped 10% in the fourth quarter to just 19.2%.
Apple’s also saw a notable full year decline, from 14.2% to 10.5% in 2016. The release of Apple Watch Series 2, however, gave it a much needed boost to finish the year with its best ever quarter.
“With the entrance of multiple new vendors with strengths in different industries, the wearables market is expected to maintain a positive outlook, though much of this growth is coming from vendor push rather than consumer demand,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.
“As the technology disappears into the background, hybrid watches and other fashion accessories with fitness tracking are starting to gain traction. This presents an opportunity to sell multiple wearables to a single consumer under the guise of ‘fashion.'”
Meanwhile, last year proved there is more to wearables than just wrist-worn devices. Heareables surpassed 1% of all shipments for the first time in a quarter and smart clothes generated more than 1% of sales for the 12 month period. Even though these shares are tiny, they are expected to grow in the coming years.
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