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Fitness trackers outpace smartwatches with consumers

A report from IDC shows that fitness trackers are the muscle behind the wearables industry.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
fitbit-flex-2-12.jpg

Fitbit's Flex 2 debuted this August.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're wearing a piece of connected tech, it's probably not a smartwatch. It's much more likely a fitness tracker, according to a report from consulting firm IDC.

From June through September of this year, fitness trackers made up 85 percent of the wearables market, the report said, and drove the growth in sales. Smartwatches, in the meantime, fell in popularity during the same time period.

"Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme," said Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst at IDC who focuses on mobile devices.

Fitbit took first place on the list of popular wearables brands, followed by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, Garmin, Apple and Samsung. Fitbit debuted a new product -- $100 Flex 2 -- in August and shipped 5.3 million fitness trackers in three month period at which IDC looked.

IDC expects sales to stay strong as the holiday season approaches. That's despite recent research that found fitness trackers don't improve activity levels in the short term, even when combined with financial incentives from the workplace.

IDC said users find fitness trackers easy to use.

"Simplicity is a driving factor," Ubrani said, "and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device."