The wearables market has seen an exponential growth in the recent past. In fact, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017 saw a record number of wearables being shipped worldwide. A total of 37.9 million wearable devices were shipped during the three month period, a 7.7% growth (from 35.2 million units) compared to the same period in 2016. The data, compiled by market researcher IDC, shows a record 115.4 million wearables being shipped during the whole 2017.
IDC's data shows that Apple has leapfrogged Fitbit and Xiaomi to become the No. 1 vendor of wearables for the first time ever, thanks to strong shipments of Apple Watch Series 3 during Q4 of 2017. Apple accounted for 21.0% wearables sold during the quarter, up from 14.4% during Q4 of 2016. Both Fitbit and Xiaomi saw a decline in their market share, from 18.5% to 14.2% and 14.7% to 13.0% respectively.
"Interest in smartwatches continues to grow and Apple is well-positioned to capture demand. Apple is catching the market at the right time with many users of basic wearables moving on to smartwatches and cellular connectivity. What will bear close observation is how Apple will iterate upon these and how the competition chooses to keep pace," wrote IDC.
Such was the impact of the Q4 sales that Apple eventually ended up as the largest wearables seller of the year 2017. During 2017, Apple is estimated to have shipped 17.7 million Watches, surpassing Xiaomi's 15.7 million and Fitbit's 15.4 million.
Overall, the market continues to grow in total unit volumes while simultaneously shifting toward smart wearables. 2017 saw a growth of 10.3%, from 104.6 million units in 2016 to 115.4 million units, in the shipments of wearables. Apple took over the top spot in the final few months of the year after spending several quarters several quarters close behind Fitbit or Xiaomi. Garmin and Fossil make up the top five wearables seller of the year.
As far as smartwatches are concerned, Apple out-battles everyone else quite easily. The company grabbed 61% share of all smartwatches in the fourth quarter, and outsold all other smartwatches combined (15.6 million) throughout 2017.