Shipments of wearable devices continued to rise in the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest data from IDC. But while the segment experienced growth overall, there's mounting disparity among the top providers.
As has been the case for much of 2016, fitness bands, which are part of IDC's "basic wearables" category, were the top-selling wearable devices in Q3 and accounted for 85 percent of the market. IDC says much of the increase stems from the launch of newer models and an expanding user base.
On the contrary, smart wearables -- including devices like the Apple Watch, which are capable of running third party apps -- declined throughout the quarter and will continue to struggle in the near term, IDC says.
With the Apple Watch in particular, IDC contends that the 71 percent year-over-year decline of Apple's flagship wearable is due to an aging lineup and an unintuitive user interface. While Apple has attempted to address both issues with the Apple Watch 2, the overall success of the device will be muted as the smartwatch category remains challenged.
"It's still early days, but we're already seeing a notable shift in the market," said IDC Senior Research Analyst Jitesh Ubrani. "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. Meanwhile, from a design perspective, many devices are focusing on fashion first while allowing the technology to blend in with the background."
In terms of the vendor leaderboard, Fitbit's top spot is followed by Xiaomi, Garmin, Apple, and Samsung, respectively. The big news here is that Apple lost its No. 3 position to Garmin, thanks to its marketing strategy targeting fitness diehards.
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