Apple maintained its position at the top of the smartwatch sales chart last quarter, selling 4.7 million Apple Watches and capturing 17 percent of the global market, according to a report published today by research firm IDC. Apple now remains just ahead of Xiaomi, which trailed Apple by two percentage points in market share and 500,000 unit shipments in the second quarter of the year.
Fitbit, Huawei, and Garmin are far behind, with IDC reporting that higher demand for more fully featured smartwatches is driving demand for Apple products and reducing the popularity of lower-cost fitness trackers. IDC stresses that this is a natural cycle for consumer electronics and that fitness-focused devices will still have a place in the market going forward.
Basic wearables have been in decline over the past several quarters, but that does not mean that they no longer have a place in the market,” writes Ramon T. Llamas, IDC’s wearables research director. “There still exists multiple market segments who prefer simple and inexpensive wearable devices and this is where wrist-worn fitness trackers and hybrid watches are finding demand.”
This data doesn’t point to an especially new revelation, as smartwatches have come to dominate the wearables category that was first popularized by simple fitness bands from Fitbit, Jawbone, and others. But it does illustrate Apple’s substantial impact on the wearables market, which it first entered in 2015. It also points to why the company continues to iterate on the Apple Watch and release new versions of the hardware every year, just as it eventually settled into an annual cadence for its smartphones and tablets.
IDC says demand for its LTE-equipped Series 3 device largely drove Apple’s wearable sales last quarter, and the device received a number of discounts at big-box retail stores that may have led to a surge in consumer purchases. Refurbished versions of the Apple Watch Series 3 also went up for sale on Apple’s retail site starting in February.
Next week, Apple is expected to release the Apple Watch Series 4. Leaked images indicate that the product will have a larger display and more intricate complications. The event, which will also focus on a new slate of iPhones and the company’s fall software refreshes, is scheduled for Wednesday, September 12th.