The Apple Watch gets Devalued in IDC's General Wearables Study that Mixes in Fitness Bands
In late October we posted a report from StrategyAnalytics that Apple had shipped 4.5 million Apple Watches in Q3. Of course without Apple confirming shipments or units sold, all estimates are guestimates for the time being. Yet IDC decided to invent a number so that Apple would be seen as the number two player in wearables behind Fitbit and showing Xiaomi in third just slightly behind Apple.
Fitbit's ability to ship a lot of cheap fitness trackers in the $100 - $180 price range allowed them to take the lead in "shipments." Xiaomi sells their fitness trackers at about $80. Apple's entry level sports watch starts at $350. So technically, Apple is in a leadership class of their own.
IDC's report notes that while there has been clear growth in the wearable market, there has been little sign of product cannibalization. Smart watches have drawn increased attention to the market from the likes of Apple, Motorola, Pebble, and Samsung, but this has not dampened interest in fitness trackers. By the end of 3Q15, shipment volumes for both product categories increased sequentially and year over year, showing that, for now, the categories can co-exist and grow. This also provides end users with choice in terms of feature sets and functionalities, ranging from simple fitness tracking to smartphone-like experiences.
Apple posted a slight increase from the previous quarter, mostly the result of additional markets and channels coming on line. End-user attention has been going toward its entry-level and least expensive Sport line, to which Apple responded by introducing gold and rose gold models. In addition, Apple released watchOS 2, bringing native third-party applications to the device.
Fitbit relied on its popular Fitbit Charge and Fitbit Surge models to maintain its leadership in the worldwide wearables market, and also saw continued growth within the Asia/Pacific and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) markets. Equally noteworthy has been its fast-growing Corporate Wellness strategy during the quarter, which added North American retailer Target and its order of 335,000 fitness trackers for its employees. Target joins Bank of America, Time Warner, and more than 70 other Fortune 500 companies to deploy Fitbit devices to its employees.
IDC should break out and publish two reports so as to honestly cover smartwatches and fitness bands separately. But that's not IDC's style. They appear to enjoy mixing categories to devalue Apple's position in smartwatches and tablets. For tablets, Apple is the clear winner in shipments but they get lost in a category bent on accepting hybrid notebooks as tablets. Then again, it's a complaint that falls on deaf ears year in and year out.
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