Fitbit rules 50 percent of the world's wearable market

The recent recall of the Fitbit Force over skin irritations appears to have no bearing on the wearable's sales momentum.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Fitbit Force. Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitbit appears to be a tour de force in the wearable world.

New numbers released by analyst Canalys on Wednesday show Fitbit devices accounted for nearly 50 percent of the world's 2.7 million wearable band shipments in the first quarter of 2014.

Apparently, the recent kerfuffle and recall over allergic sensitivities to the Fitbit Force had little if any impact on sales. Canalys believes it was Fitbit's swift handling of the issue that let the company keep its users and sales momentum.

While Fitbit nabbed nearly half of the market share, another strong competitor was Jawbone. This newcomer has seen rapid expansion in international distribution, according to Canalys. Nike's FuelBand, on the other hand, didn't fair so well. It's market share dropped by 10 percent in the first quarter. Nike is reportedly canceling all of its future FuelBand devices.

"The FuelBand has frankly been outmatched on sales," Canalys analyst Daniel Matte said in a statement. "Its competitors' speed, international reach, broader channel distribution, integration with other fitness communities, superior web sites and multi-platform support have proven to be major advantages."

While Fitbit and Jawbone dominated the wearable bands market, Pebble took top honors in the smartband segment. The company's Pebble Steel and its other devices took 35 percent of the world market share -- beating out Sony and Samsung. In fact, Samsung actually lost market share in the first quarter dropping to 23 percent.

"The company must make some big steps to improve sell-through and customer satisfaction with its new products," Canalys VP and principal analyst Chris Jones said.

While the wearable band market appears to be strong with 2.7 million units shipped in the first quarter, the smartband market isn't doing as well. Total smartband shipments didn't even break half a million in the first quarter, according to Canalys.

"Some industry observers are wondering if the wearables market is a failure, but Canalys believes the current dynamics instead reflect the rapidly changing nature of wearable devices," Canalys research analyst Joe Kempton said. "More sophisticated sensor technology designed specifically for wearables will be arriving soon."