The wearables market is growing, but even more significantly, it is shifting.
The worldwide wearables market reached an all-time high in the last quarter, but there’s some serious company pivoting going on, according to a new report.
Shipments of wearable devices reached 34 million units in the last quarter of 2016, growing 17% from the previous year, according to the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
For the full year, 102 million wearable devices were sent into the marketplace.
However, there’s been a shift in the focus of the devices themselves.
In the past few months, Apple’s WatchOS and Google’s Android Wear both shifted their focus to fitness and health applications.
“Basic wearables started out as single-purpose devices tracking footsteps and are morphing into multi-purpose wearable devices, fusing together multiple health and fitness capabilities and smartphone notifications,” stated Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables team. “It's enough to blur the lines against most smart wearables, to the point where first generation smartwatches are no better than most fitness trackers.”
It’s still tiny in relation to wrist devices, but ear-worn devices and sensor-laden clothing each surpassed 1% of the entire market for the last year.
For the quarter, consistent market leader Fitbit retained its position, but Xiaomi in China was close behind, with 96% growth from the same time last year while Fitbit dropped 23%. For the entire year, here’s the breakdown of wearable device shipped:
One interesting insight from the IDC study is that much of the growth of wearables is coming from vendor push rather than consumer demand.
Fitbit also retained its lead in terms of market share. For all of 2016, here’s the total market share by company:
Overall, Fitbit dropped 5% of market share from last year, Apple dropped 3% and Xiaomi gained 1%.
Despite the shifts in market share, the top five companies account for 59% of the market. And that represents a lot of wearables.