Global wearables market grows 7.7% in Q4 2017
IDC says 10.3% growth in 2017 sees Apple seize top spot
Analyst IDC, has said the worldwide wearables market continued its upward trajectory in both the fourth quarter 2017 and full year with total shipment volumes reaching new records.
IDC said with a surge in smartwatch shipment volumes, Apple moved past competitors Fitbit and Xiaomi to claim overall leadership for both the quarter and the year.
Citing the Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, IDC pointed out that total volumes for the quarter reached 37.9munits, up 7.7% from the 35.2m units shipped in the same quarter a year ago. For the full year, total wearable device shipments reached 115.4 million units, up 10.3% from the 104.6 million units shipped in 2016.
"The 10.3% year-over-year growth in 2017 is a marked decline from the 27.3% growth we saw in 2016," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team. "The slowdown is not due to a lack of interest - far from it. Instead, we saw numerous vendors, relying on older models, exit the market altogether. At the same time, the remaining vendors - including multiple start-ups - have not only replaced them, but with devices, features, and services that have helped make wearables more integral in people's lives."
Llamas said going forward, the next generation of wearables will make the ones seen as recently as 2016 look quaint.
Meanwhile, Apple suddenly finds itself atop the wearables market. "Interest in smartwatches continues to grow and Apple is well-positioned to capture demand," added Llamas. "User tastes have become more sophisticated over the past several quarters and Apple pounced on the demand for cellular connectivity and streaming multimedia. What will bear close observation is how Apple will iterate upon these and how the competition chooses to keep pace."
Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said: "Although prices for individual products has slowly declined, consumer preferences have shifted to more sophisticated devices and towards well recognised brands.
Ubrani explained that it's due to this that the wearables market has seen healthy double-digit growth in average selling prices since 2016. "Combined with the potential to sell added software and services, wearables are proving to be an increasingly lucrative market for brands and service providers," he said.
Fourth quarter 2017 was the first quarter that Apple held the market leader position all to itself after spending several quarters close behind Fitbit or Xiaomi.