Apple Watch closes in on Fitbit with 3.6M shipments in Q2: IDC

Apple's shipments were only slightly behind the 4.4 million units shipped by current wearable leader Fitbit.

The Apple Watch still may be in relative infancy, but according to new data from IDC, shipments of Apple's flagship wearable device are quickly outpacing the competition.

Apple shipped a total of 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015, which is only slightly behind the 4.4 million units shipped by the current wearable leader Fitbit.

Total wearable shipment volume for the quarter soared 223 percent above comparable volume during the same quarter last year, at 18 million units.

"About two of every three smart wearables shipped this quarter was an Apple Watch," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC. "Apple has clearly garnered an impressive lead in this space and its dominance is expected to continue."

Ubrani noted that Fitbit only sells basic wearables, a category that is expected to decline over the next few years, as opposed to smart wearables such as the Apple Watch. This means it's likely that the Apple Watch will pressure other wearable vendors to re-evaluate their products.

"Fairly or not, Apple will become the stick against which other wearables are measured, and competing vendors need to stay current or ahead of Apple," said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables team. "Now that Apple is officially a part of the wearables market, everyone will be watching to see what other wearable devices it decides to launch, such as smart glasses or hearables."

IDC's latest tracker marks Apple's first appearance on the wearables market leaderboard, which makes it all the more impressive that it has already reached the number 2 position overall. Xiaomi of China was third in terms of wearable shipments for the quarter, followed by Garmin and then Samsung.

Apple Watch is available in just 16 geographic markets and only recently has the company inked deals with third-party retailers such as Best Buy to carry the device, which means there is a lot of room to grow in terms of sales locations.

What's more, Apple is already planning the next version of watchOS, announcing recently that it will allow for native applications as it eventually did for the iPhone. For everyone waiting for that killer app, this is an important step.

As for how IDC's data translates for the companies, it looks pretty positive all around. Apple Watch is priced significantly higher than Fitbit, which means its likely that Apple's revenue is already above Fitbit's. But even so, Fitbit hardly had a rough quarter, as the company increased shipments 158 percent year-over-year.