Will The Apple Watch Dominate The Wearable Market?


Doug Olenick, Contributor

June 8, 2015

With the Apple Watch now fully entrenched in the market, Fitbit may have enjoyed its last experience as the top wearable device maker on IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker list.

IDC listed Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin as the top three makers of wearable devices for the first quarter of 2015, but Apple’s official roll out of the Watch in April should make it the top wearable manufacturer when the second quarter numbers come out.

“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,” said Ramon Llamas, IDC’s research manager for wearables.

Overall, the wearable market grew by 200 percent year over year with 11.4 million devices shipping worldwide indicating the market is very strong.

“Bucking the post-holiday decline normally associated with the first quarter is a strong sign for the wearables market,” said Llamas. “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.

The one hurdle possible blocking the Watch from total dominance in the category is its starting price. IDC said price erosion was one reason wearables have sold so well, but the Apple Watch’s started price of $349 is well over three times the average selling price for many of the other wearables now on the market. IDC estimates that 40 percent if all wearables are priced at $100 or less.

“As with any young market, price erosion has been quite drastic,” said Jitesh Ubrani,  IDC’s senior research analyst, worldwide mobile device trackers. “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 center of attention.”

If Apple does take over the top spot Fitbit will most likely be bumped into second place as it had a very strong first quarter probably keeping it ahead of Xiaomi. Fitbit shipped 3.9 million units which gave it 34 percent of the market. IDC said this was due to strong demand for new products such as the Charge, Charge HR, and the Surge. In addition, consumers continued to scramble for its Flex wristband and One and Zip clip-on models. IDC noted that Fitbit’s product mix of devices for both the casual and higher-level athlete was one driver for its success.

This kept Fitbit about 10 percentage points ahead of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Xiaomi’s second-place finish was based almost entirely on the sale of its Mi Band into the Chinese domestic market, but IDC hinted the company may look to the international market soon so it could become a stronger rival to Fitbit.

Top Five Wearables Vendors, Shipments, Market Share and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q1 2015 Data (Units in Millions)

Vendor 1Q15 Shipment Volumes 1Q15 Market Share 1Q14 Shipment Volumes 1Q14 Market Share Year-over-year Change
1. Fitbit 3.9 34.2% 1.7 44.7% 129.4%
2. Xiaomi 2.8 24.6% 0 0.0% N/A
3. Garmin 0.7 6.1% 0.3 7.9% 133.3%
4. Samsung 0.6 5.3% 0.3 7.9% 100.0%
5. Jawbone 0.5 4.4% 0.2 5.3% 150.0%
Others 2.9 25.4% 1.3 34.2% 123.1%
Total 11.4 100.0% 3.8 100.0% 200.0%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Tracker, June 2, 2015

Much like Fitbit, Garmin also has a large portfolio of wearables. Despite this the company was a distant third garnering a market share of just over 6 percent.

Fourth place Samsung has painted itself into a tough spot with its Gear, Gear 2, Gear Fit, Gear 2 Neo, Gear S, and the Android-Wear powered Gear Live products. IDC analysts pointed out that Samsung’s performance has been hindered because its Gear devices can only connect to certain premium model Samsung smartphones.

Jawbone, Sony and Pebble battled it out for fifth place on IDC’s list with Jawbone coming out on top. Llamas and Ubrani said demand for Jawbone’s UP MOVE and UP24 helped the company in the first quarter and these will be reinforced with the introduction of two new devices expected in the second quarter.

This article was written by Doug Olenick from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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