The overall growth of the wearables market continued even in the third quarter of 2016, mentions a new report from International Data Corporation (IDC). With a 3.1 percent year-on-year increase in market share, the shipments amounted to a total of 23 million in the said quarter.
This increment, however, was supported by the rising popularity of simplistic fitness bands over the last one year. The smartwatches were expected to take the lead in the wearables market but their sales have only been slumping over the past couple quarters. Instead, the affordable and easily accessible fitness bands are now leading the pack. The report also terms these basic wearables as ‘reign supreme.’
Commenting on the stark variation in figures, Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, says,
It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market. Simplicity is a driving factor and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device. Meanwhile, from a design perspective, many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background.
Talking about specific numbers, the basic wearable market accounted for over 85 percent of the market and were the top-selling category in the Q3 2016. This category, the IDC report says, experienced a double-digit growth driven by the expanding user base and regular release of newer models.
In terms of shipments, Fitbit remained the overall wearable leader (as well as in its category) with a market share of 23 percent, followed by Chinese upstart Xiaomi’s 16.5 percent. Garmin trailed behind at the third position with a 5.7 percent share. Apple and Samsung were placed at the fourth and fifth spot respectively.
These fitness technology giants were able to bag the top spot with the release of new products including Fitbit’s Charge 2 and its reported inquisition into the smartwatch ecosystem with the acquisition of Coin and Pebble (rumored). Xiaomi maintained its lead with the release of its ultra-cheap $14.99 fitness tracker ‘Mi Band,’ which includes a heart rate tracker.
The smartwatch giants, on the contrary, couldn’t maintain their stance in the wearable market and continued to struggle with Apple barely making it to the fourth spot. The Cupertino tech behemoth was able to capture a market share of 4.9 percent but it saw a 71 percent year-on-year decline in shipments of its flagship wearable ‘Apple Watch.’
It shipped an estimated 1.1 million units of the same worldwide, according to the report. This humongous decline has been attributed to the “aging lineup” and the Apple Watch’s “unintuitive user interface.” The company has tried to address the said concerns with the release of its second iteration of the said wearable in September. Thus, IDC still needs to witness the effect of this release on overall sales.
But, in an email response about the report received by Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook is pretty confident about the Apple Watch’s sell-through rate hit a new high. In the statement, he says,
Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year. Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch.
Cook still continued to retain himself from fessing up sales figures, which has been a constant for Apple. But it is the first time Apple has come to the defense of its flailing Watch sales.