Chinese vendors gain ground in wearables market

wearables smart watch

As the race for leadership of the wearables market entered the third quarter, Fitbit is still leading the field, having doubled it sales but Xiaomi is emerging as a strong challenger to Apple in smart watches, according to the latest research figures from IDC.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report total shipments for Q3 2015 nearly tripled year on year, being up by 197.6% on the 7.1 million units shipped in Q3 2014.

The segmentation of those 21 million wearables sold globally is changing by the quarter, IDC reports. While the market still divides into smart watches and fitness trackers, relative market share changes reflect intensifying competition.

In the smart watch market Apple’s second place could be threatened by a strong challenge being mounted Chinese vendor Xiaomi which finished the quarter strongly. In July reported how the launch of the Apple Watch had catalysed a positive reaction to Smart Watches with the entire sector enjoying a sales surge. While Apple’s smart watch sales increased slightly through additional markets and channels coming on line, end user attention has been diverted to entry-level lines.

Apple responded with new models but Xiaomi’s inexpensive Mi Band buoyed volumes higher during the quarter, with more than 97% of its volumes shipping into China. While Xiaomi’s sales outside of China remain limited, progress has been made in Western markets and it has strong potential for growth says the report.

The market flux is exemplified in the fitness tracker sector where the Fitbit’s market share was cut 10.6% (from 32.8% to 22.2%) despite doubling its sales to 4.7 million. Fitbit has held onto first place with new successful new models Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Surge and a marketing coup, in the form of the Corporate Wellness strategy. According to IDC this scheme has persuaded at least 70 Fortune 500 companies to give Fitbit devices to employees.

Meanwhile Chinese vendor XTC overtook Samsung for fifth place by selling 100,000 units in its worldwide debut but its focus is exclusively within China with one device: the Y01 children’s phone watch.

“The early stages of the wearables market led to tight competition among the leading vendors, and Chinese vendors have seized upon market momentum to grab market share,” said Ramon Llamas , Research Manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “China has quickly emerged as the fastest-growing wearables market, attracting companies eager to compete on price and feature sets.”

The challenge for these vendors is expanding their presence as few have extended beyond the country’s borders, says IDC.


Top Five Wearables Vendors, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share and Year-Over-Year Growth , Q 3 2015 Data (Units in Millions)

Vendor 3Q15 Shipment Volumes 3Q15 Market Share 3Q14 Shipment Volumes 3Q14 Market Share Year-over-Year Change
1. Fitbit 4.7 22.2% 2.3 32.8% 101.7%
2. Apple 3.9 18.6% 0.0 0.0% NA
3. Xiaomi 3.7 17.4% 0.4 5.7% 815.4%
4. Garmin 0.9 4.1% 0.5 7.0% 72.5%
5. BBK 0.7 3.1% 0.0 0.0% NA
Others 7.3 34.6% 3.9 54.6% 88.8%
Total 21.0 100.0% 7.1 100.0% 197.6%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, December 3, 2015

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