It’s back to basics in the wearables world.
According to a quarterly report from the International Data Corporation, basic wearables from Fitbit are maintaining momentum among consumers, while advanced fitness trackers and smartwatches from Apple can’t keep up the pace.
In the third quarter of this year, according to the IDC, the wearables market grew 3.1 percent, with total shipments reaching 23 million in the quarter. Fitness bands experienced double-digit growth and claimed 85 percent of the total wearables market. That is expected to continue through the holiday shopping season.
According to the report, the increase was thanks to new models, an expanding user base and an “enticing summer season that allowed people to step out of their homes.”
Fitbit, which is widely anticipated to be acquiring smartwatch-maker Pebble, was the market leader in the third quarter of this year. It claimed 23 percent market share, which is about the same as a year ago, and sold 5.3 million devices, which is up 11 percent year over year. IDC researches said that they expected this lead to continue in the near term.
The smartwatch market faltered, and smart wearables, meaning those capable of running third-party apps, are expected to continue to struggle.
“It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani, who is senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.
Chinese company Xiaomi, whose Mi Band is the lowest priced among competitors, shipped 3.8 million units and had 16.5 percent market share. Garmin, whose third place is credited to a focus on fitness and fashion, sold 1.3 million with 5.7 percent market share.
Apple, which was hurt by introducing its second-generation Apple Watch late in the quarter, claimed 1.1 million units and 4.9 percent share. It also experienced a 71 percent decline in growth compared to a year ago. Samsung, which was boosted by bundling its wearables with smartphone sales, shipped one million with 4.5 percent share. It experienced the most growth at 89.9 percent year-over-year.
“Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme. Simplicity is a driving factor and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device.”
In addition to simplicity, companies have begun expanding the aesthetics to appeal to a more design-conscious wearer who craves personalization. “Many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background,” Ubrani said.
Research manager Ramon Llamas added that although they are down, smart wearables are not totally out of the picture.
“As user tastes change, so will their needs. That’s the opportunity for smart wearables with multifunctionality and third-party applications, both for consumers and business users. To get there, we need to see more intuitive user interfaces, seamless user experiences, stand-alone connectivity and applications that go beyond health and fitness and into personal and professional productivity.”