IDC wearables analysis puts Xiaomi and Apple at top – with Fitbit lagging

Xiaomi and Apple cannot be separated as the top wearables vendors in the first quarter of 2017, pushing long-time leader Fitbit back, according to the latest figures from IDC.

The analyst firm, posting its latest Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, found Apple was the biggest growth in branded device shipments – excluding OEM sales – year over year, going from 2.2 million to 3.6 million. Xiaomi technically finished above Apple, with a 14.7% market share compared to 14.6%, but with both on 3.6 million IDC was unable to separate them.

Fitbit dropped to third with 3 million shipments in Q117, down significantly from the 4.9m this time last year, while Samsung moved up to fourth with 1.4 million shipments – up 90.8% from the first quarter of 2016 – with Garmin holding firm at 1.1 million in fifth position.

In total, 24.7 million wearable devices were shipped, up from 20.9m in Q1 of 2016 at a growth rate of 17.9% year over year.

IDC said Fitbit was ‘in the midst of a transformation as user tastes evolve from fitness bands to watches and other products’. But despite losing market share to the two new leaders, IDC added that ‘by no means should Fitbit be removed from the wearables conversation’.

“The market is arguably still in the first phase of development, where companies are focused on seeding wearables into the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers in a statement. “It’s all about getting people accustomed to the idea of wearing a device. And the opportunity remains very enticing for traditional and fashion watch brands as the scale of the consumer electronics market far surpasses their world.

“The second phase of development will be all about putting user data to good use,” he added. “This is when step counts translate into healthier hearts and minds – and it’s also when we will start to see devices that actually augment our abilities and make our lives easier or more productive rather than just being another screen we keep an eye on.”

While the wearables market has been one seemingly under strain for the past 12 months – Laurent Le Pen, CEO of wearable tech startup Omate called 2016 a ‘tough’ year for the industry – figures for the enterprise market buck the trend. According to ABI Research earlier this month, revenue from enterprise wearable devices will hit $55 billion by 2022.

The latest IDC analysis coincides with their examination of the virtual and augmented reality markets, with again relatively positive results despite a similar overall perception of the market stuttering.

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