Xiaomi usurps Fitbit as king of the wearables

Global wearables shipments reached 21.6 million units in the second quarter of 2017, a steady 8% increase from the same period in 2016.

Research from Strategy Analytics estimates there was a little bit of a shake-up in the market share rankings as well. Strong demand for low-cost fitness bands in China and premium smartwatches across the United States say the uplift across the segment, but with Xiaomi claiming top spot with a 17% market share.

“Xiaomi shipped 3.7 million wearables worldwide in Q2 2017, rising 23% annually from 3 million units in Q2 2016,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. “Xiaomi captured 17% global market share and overtook Fitbit and Apple to become the world’s largest wearables vendor.

“Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness trackers are wildly popular in China, due to their highly competitive pricing and rich features such as heart-rate monitors, step-counters and calendar alerts. Fitbit shipped 3.4 million wearables for 16% market share worldwide in Q2 2017, almost halving from 29 percent a year ago. Fitbit is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between the low-end fitness bands sold by Xiaomi and the fitness-led, high-end smartwatches sold by Apple.”

Fitbit has long dominated the wearables market for a simple reason; it’s a simple device. The smartwatch craze has yet to fully ignite due to functionality largely being tethered to smartphones; it simply isn’t practical, and certainly isn’t a fashion symbol. But this latest challenge to the status quo is one which will be tricky for Fitbit. Xiaomi isn’t too dissimilar, but is just cheaper.

It’s also another troubling sign for Apple in the Chinese market. While the last quarter was certainly positive for the iLeader, the slowdown in China would be seen as a bad omen for a brand which has become used to being the it-thing. Xiaomi’s rise will place further strain on an Apple business unit which really hasn’t gotten off the ground in the way some might have imagined.

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