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Apple takes the top spot in the global wearables market

A surge of smartwatch sales in 2017 propels Apple past Fitbit and into the top spot in the global wearables market, says International Data Corporation.

The Apple Watch Series 3 likely pushed Apple's numbers over the top in late 2017.
Sarah Tew/CNET

The worldwide market for wearable tech grew by 10.3 percent in 2017, according to new data from the International Data Corporation, a global provider of market intelligence. Moreover, Apple surged past Fitbit and Xiaomi to claim the top spot thanks to an uptick in Apple Watch sales.

"Interest in smartwatches continues to grow and Apple is well-positioned to capture demand," Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's wearables team, said in the report, adding that Apple "pounced" on the demand for cellular connectivity and streaming multimedia. "What will bear close observation is how Apple will iterate upon these and how the competition chooses to keep pace," Llamas said.

The report also notes that the 10.3 percent growth in 2017 is a marked decline from the year before, which saw global growth of 27.3 percent. That's a result of numerous vendors exiting the market altogether, Llamas wrote, noting that new vendors and new models are already moving to replace them.

"The next generation of wearables will make the ones we saw as recently as 2016 look quaint," he predicted.

Apple took over the top spot in the final few months of the year after spending several quarters nipping at Fitbit's and Xiaomi's heels. All told, Apple moved 8 million units in the last three months of 2017-- up 57.5 percent from the year before, and good for a 21 percent market share.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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