Apple overtook Fitbit to become the world’s largest wearables vendor in Q1 2017, in the latest indication the sector is bearing fruit for the technology giant. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple captured a 16 per cent market share during the quarter on shipments of 3.5 million wearables worldwide, a 59 per cent rise from 2.2 million units shipped in the same quarter of 2016.
The growth was mainly driven by the new Apple Watch Series 2, which is selling relatively well in the US, UK and elsewhere, “due to enhanced styling, intensive marketing and a good retail presence,” Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics said.
Strategy Analytics figures back up comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company’s fiscal Q2 (calendar Q1) earnings call last week, when he stated combined revenue from “wearable products in the last four quarters was the size of a Fortune 500 company.” Cook’s comments suggest Apple’s wearable products, which includes its Watch and headphone products, exceeded the $5 billion mark, and were the first time the company offered an indication of the category’s financial performance.
Apple so far listed its wearables business in its “Other Products” category. Strategy Analytics’ research found Fitbit shipped 2.9 million wearables worldwide during the first quarter of the year, a dip of 36 per cent annually from 4.5 million units in Q1 2016.
The vendor slipped to third place in Strategy Analytics’ rankings, behind Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, which placed second on shipments of 3.4 million wearables during the quarter. “Fitbit has lost its leadership to Apple due to slowing demand for its fitness bands and a late entry to the emerging smartwatch market,” Strategy Analytics director Cliff Raskind explained, adding: “Fitbit’s shipments, revenue, pricing and profit are all shrinking at the moment and the company has a major fight on its hands to recover.”
Total global wearable shipments hit 22 million units in Q1 2017, up from 18.2 million in the comparable 2016 quarter, with new smartwatch models driving demand across North America, Western Europe and Asia.