Apple Quickly Catching Up to Fitbit in Wearables War: IDC

Apple Watch has only been on the market for a few months, but the smartwatch is already narrowing Fitbit's early lead.

Apple Watch went on sale on April 24, and in just four months, it's already upending the wearables market according to International Data Corporation (IDC), a technology analyst firm.

Wearables shipments numbered 18.1 million units in the second quarter of 2015, a whopping 223.2 percent improvement compared to the 5.6 million devices shipped during the same year-ago period. Fitbit took the crown with shipments of 4.4 million units while Apple came in a close second with 3.6 million Watches shipped.

"About two of every three smart wearables shipped this quarter was an Apple Watch," observed Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. "Apple has clearly garnered an impressive lead in this space and its dominance is expected to continue."

Fitbit's reign at the top of the wearables market looks to be short-lived, according to Ubrani. He added that "it's worth noting that Fitbit only sells basic wearables – a category that is expected to lose share over the next few years, leaving Apple poised to become the next market leader for all wearables."

Apple's arrival onto the scene serves as a catalyst for the wearables industry as a whole, asserted IDC research manager Ramon Llamas. "Its participation benefits multiple players and platforms within the wearables ecosystem, and ultimately drives total volumes higher," he said in a statement.

The Cupertino, Calif. device maker is also forcing rivals to up their game. "Apple also forces other vendors – especially those that have been part of this market for multiple quarters – to re-evaluate their products and experiences," Llamas continued.

Third-place Xiaomi, with shipments of 3.1 million units or 17.1 percent of the market, "made a fairly big splash" with its inexpensive Mi Band last year, according to IDC. "Since then its growth has been unstoppable in China as the vendor was quick to introduce rock-bottom prices," although its limited distribution setup present a challenge for the company, noted IDC.

GPS specialist Garmin took fourth place with shipments of 700,000 wearables aimed at "citizen athletes." Rounding out the top five was Samsung with 600,000 units, or 3.3 percent of the market. To improve its lot, the Korean electronics giant may need to widen its horizons, suggested IDC.

"Given Samsung's history of making its latest wearable devices compatible only with Samsung's top models and nearly exclusive reliance on Tizen, the company has limited its potential reach. Whether that trend continues with the Gear S2 will bear close observation," stated the research firm.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.




Tags: Apple, IDC, smartwatch, wearables


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