Industry analysts and journalists have been been quick to make judgments on the wearable market. Some have called it a fad, while others have claimed it's already dead. Not so fast.
A new report issued Thursday by International Data Corporation (IDC) will hopefully put an end to those claims. The research firm found shipments of smartwatches and fitness trackers reached a new all-time high of 33.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, which represents growth of 16.9% year over year. Shipments for the entire year grew 25% to 102.4 million devices.
"Like any technology market, the wearables market is changing," said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables team, in a press release issued by the company. "Basic wearables started out as single-purpose devices tracking footsteps and are morphing into multi-purpose wearable devices, fusing together multiple health and fitness capabilities and smartphone notifications. It's enough to blur the lines against most smart wearables, to the point where first generation smartwatches are no better than most fitness trackers."
Fitbit led the way with a market share of 22% on shipments of 22.5 million units. The health and wellness company sold more devices in 2016 than Apple, Garmin and Samsung combined. The closest competition came from Xiaomi. The Chinese company continues to find success with its more affordable trackers, although that success is still limited to its home country of China. Xiaomi's market share in 2016 was 15.4%, ahead of industry heavyweights like Apple (10.5%), Garmin (5.9%) and Samsung (4.3%).