Wearables market mushrooms by 200% despite Apple Watch’s absence
Growth spurt is eighth consecutive quarterly surge, says IDC
The wearable computing devices market saw its eighth consecutive quarter of growth in the three months to 31 March, despite fears of a slowdown as tech-savvy consumers awaited the arrival of the Apple Watch, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
The research company's Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, showed vendors had shipped a total of 11.4m wearables in Q1 2015, a 200% increase from the 3.8m wearables shipped in the year-earlier period.
"Bucking the post-holiday decline normally associated with the first quarter is a strong sign for the wearables market," said Ramon Llamas, research manager, Wearables, IDC. "It demonstrates growing end-user interest and the vendors' ability to deliver a diversity of devices and experiences. In addition, demand from emerging markets is on the rise and vendors are eager to meet these new opportunities.
"What remains to be seen is how Apple's arrival will change the landscape. The Apple Watch will likely become the device that other wearables will be measured against, fairly or not. This will force the competition to up their game in order to stay on the leading edge of the market."
"As with any young market, price erosion has been quite drastic," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "We now see over 40% of the devices priced under $100, and that's one reason why the top five vendors have been able to grow their dominance from two thirds of the market in the first quarter of last year to three quarters this quarter. Despite this price erosion, Apple's entrance with a product priced at the high end of the spectrum will test consumers' willingness to pay a premium for a brand or product that is the centre of attention."
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California-based Fitbit remains the clear market leader in the worldwide wearable device market, with a 34.2% share, but this is down from Q1 2014's 44.7%. The company's first-quarter shipments were driven by the release of three new devices (Charge, Charge HR, and Surge) along with continued demand for its older Flex wristband and One and Zip clip-on models. Each model is designed to appeal to different market segments, from casual exercisers to committed athletes, and the products all use Fitbit's behaviour-change engine to encourage user activity.
China's Xiaomi took a 24.6% market share in Q1, despite being less than a year in the wearables arena. Its Mi Band, which launched in the second half of 2014, shipped over 1m units. Similar to its smartphones, Xiaomi's Mi Band was delivered primarily within its home country of China, but recent announcements point to more global aspirations for the company.
After the top two vendors, IDC reported a sharp drop-off in market shares. Kansas, US' Garmin took the number-three spot with just 6.1%, which was a slight drop from 7.9% in Q1 2014. Samsung and Jawbone rounded out the top five with 5.3% and 4.4% respectively.
Samsung's performance is likely due to the fact that its Tizen-powered Gear, Gear 2, Gear Fit, Gear 2 Neo, Gear S, and the Android-Wear-powered Gear Live all need select high-end Samsung smartphones to work properly.