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Despite hitting store shelves well into the year, the Apple Watch handily beat its smartwatch rivals for all of 2015.
According to a new report from the technology analysts at Canalys, Apple was responsible for two-thirds of all smartwatch shipments last year, or 12 million units. Notably, the Apple Watch spent nearly all of the first quarter of 2015 waiting in the wings. The wearable officially went on sale (April 24).
The busy holiday season was particularly lucrative for Apple, according to Canalys analyst Jason Low. "Cashing in on holiday sales, Apple managed to rack up over five million shipments in the fourth quarter," he said in a statement.
Samsung came in second place, thanks in part to improved consumer demand for its redesigned Gear S2 smartwatch. Third and fourth place went to Pebble and Huawei, respectively.
In the basic wearable band category, generally comprised of fitness and health trackers, Fitbit led the market. Chinese device maker Xiaomi took second place with shipments of 12 million Mi Bands last year. Basic wearable band shipments totaled 37 million units.
Daniel Matte, an analyst at Canalys, observed a shift in the industry, suggesting that smartwatches are encroaching on the basic wearable scene and vendors may want to adjust their product strategies accordingly.
"Software increasingly belongs on the wrist, and this is the direction the market is going," said Matte in a remarks to the press. "As the next step along this path, the Fitbit Blaze is the right product for the company to develop. It is competitively priced and is still being squarely focused on fitness."
Unveiled during last month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Fitbit Blaze features a full-color touchscreen and other smartwatch capabilities, including music controls and call, calendar and text alerts. Fitness features include on-screen workouts, automatic exercise recognition and continuous heart rate tracking. The Blaze goes on sale in March 2016.
Supporting interchangeable bands and frames, Blaze is a departure from Fitbit's sporty but utilitarian design. "One of the first things we learned in this industry is that fitness is personal – and if something isn’t your style, you won't wear it," said James Park, CEO and co-Founder of Fitbit in a Jan. 5 announcement. He went onto describe the $200 wearable as "a beautiful, versatile device that can be customized to fit your personal style."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.