Smart wearables are finally taking off

Basic fitness trackers aren't doing it for consumers like they used to. Now we're all about devices that can tell us how to improve our lives.

Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

Smart wearables are really catching on.

Worldwide shipments of wearable devices reached 26.3 million units in the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 7.3 percent year over year, according to an IDC report released Thursday. But the market also showed a rising interest in smart wearables, or devices that can run third-party apps, and a waning taste for basic wearables, which don't run third-party apps.


Smart devices like the Apple Watch are helping boost growth in the wearables market. 

James Martin/CNET

"The differing trajectories for both smart and basic wearables underscore the ongoing evolution for the wearables market," IDC research manager Ramon Llamas said in a statement.

In August, IDC reported that the second quarter of 2017 was the first time that basic wearables declined, while shipments of smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch and devices running Android Wear, grew more than 60 percent. 

Smart wearables haven't always done so well. The market declined more than 50 percent in the third quarter of 2016, IDC reported last October. But recent numbers indicate a continuing positive shift for smart devices.  

Fitbit and Xiaomi led the market, tied for first place. Apple, which landed in third place, in September released the third iteration of its Apple Watch, which features cellular connectivity for the first time. 

IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said consumers are gravitating toward today's smart wearables, which have more sensors on them and are getting more sophisticated. The Apple Watch, for example, serves as more than just a fitness tracker: Siri can remind you about your next appointment or tell you what the weather will be.

"[Consumers] don't want their devices to just tell them how many steps they've taken," Ubrani said. "They want a device that can tell them how to improve their lives."

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