The wearables market in the first quarter of 2016 was characterised by “device releases, price reductions and company rationalisations”, IDC said.
Total shipment volume for the three months reached 19.7 million units, an increase of 67.2 per cent year-on-year.
“The wearables that we see today are several steps ahead of what we saw when this market began, increasingly taking their cues from form, function and fashion. That keeps them relevant,” Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables team said.
“The downside is that it is becoming a crowded market, and not everyone is guaranteed success,” he continued.
IDC said that the first quarter saw a number of significant events, “with multiple fitness trackers and smartwatches introduced at the major technology shows; post-holiday price reductions on multiple wearables, including Apple’s Sport Watch; and greater participation within emerging wearables categories, particularly clothing and footwear”.
However, there have also been casualties in the market, underscoring how competitive it has become.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for the company, said there is a “clear bifurcation” in the market, with smart watches at one end offering a full range of features, and basic wearables at the other targeting specific use cases.
“It’s shortsighted to think that basic wearables and smart watches are in competition with each other. Right now, we see both as essential to expand the overall market. The unique feature sets combined with substantial differences in price and performance sets each category apart, and leaves plenty of room for both to grow over the next few years,” Ubrani said.
Fitbit started the year as “the undisputed leader in the wearables market”, with its new Alta and Blaze devices seeing strong launch volumes. This company’s position is well-established, with “well-segmented portfolio, pricing strategy and strong brand”.
Xiaomi took number two spot, expanding its inexpensive tracker line to include heart rate monitoring and launching a kids’ watch. IDC noted that this success is “solely based on China”, and global expansion is a hurdle.
Apple rounded out the top 3, as the company looked to updated bands to remain relevant until the release of the next Watch.
|Q1 2016 shipments
|Q1 2015 shipments
|25.4 per cent
|41.8 per cent
|27.8 per cent
|4.5 per cent
|87.9 per cent
|67.2 per cent