Apple took the crown and led a surge in the 2017 worldwide wearables market

The Apple Watch's dominance grows
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Over the past couple months we've seen that the Apple Watch Series 3 has been a huge boon to Apple. It's doubled Watch sales year-over-year and was the fourth best selling gadget - not just wearable - of 2017.

But now, according to IDC's year-end numbers, it looks like it's also helped push a surge in wearables. The global wearable market grew 7.7% in Q4 2017, and 10.3% for the entire year.

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That actually doesn't look so pretty when you look at the 27.3% growth in 2016, but IDC says that's down to older vendors exiting the market and remaining players filling their shoes with even more advanced devices. Consumers are increasingly turning to wearables with smarter features and services and turning away from basic ones like fitness trackers.

Apple, as it tends to do, has managed to ride this wave at the most opportune moment, finding itself as the overall market leader, above both Xiaomi and Fitbit and jumping from 10.8% market share to 15.3% market share (a 55.9% increase). In addition, while wearable prices have declined, people want smarter features and have looked to big name brands who can provide that.

"User tastes have become more sophisticated over the past several quarters and Apple pounced on the demand for cellular connectivity and streaming multimedia," Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team. "What will bear close observation is how Apple will iterate upon these and how the competition chooses to keep pace."

Leaving the phone behind

Cellular connectivity seems to have been the key, as IDC has found that users are enjoying the ability to leave their phone behind and not be worried about being disconnected. As for Fitbit, 2017 was indeed a transition year, as the company is trying to turn itself from a hardware company that sells fitness trackers to more of a digital health company.

Xiaomi saw a slight decrease in shipments, with its older Mi Band 2 leading the way for the majority of volume. Xiaomi may be up there with the big boys, but IDC says its focus is still China, as only 15% of its products head beyond China's borders.

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Garmin is sitting pretty. While it didn't move around too much, its smart wearables, led by the likes of the Vivo and Fenix lines, have begun inching toward the one million mark for the first time and is growing faster than its basic wearables line.

Fitbit saw the biggest drop, going from 22.5 million shipments in 2016 to 15.4 million shipments in 2017 - that's a 31.6% drop year-over-year. Fossil, obviously, continues to grow at a great rate, going from 2.1 million shipments in 2016 to 4.9 million units in 2017 - a 133% increase.

As we've learned over the past year, the wearable market is in a shift. People are getting more comfortable with wearables, and according to IDC what they want is smarter wearables that come with services like music streaming. The future is bright.

Apple took the crown and led a surge in the 2017 worldwide wearables market

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Husain Sumra


Husain joined Wareable in 2017 as a member of our San Fransisco based team. Husain is a movies expert, and runs his own blog, and contributes to MacRumors.

He has spent hours in the world of virtual reality, getting eyes on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. 

At Wareable, Husain's role is to investigate, report and write features and news about the wearable industry – from smartwatches and fitness trackers to health devices, virtual reality, augmented reality and more.

He writes buyers guides, how-to content, hardware reviews and more.

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