Serious health monitoring features are driving smartwatch sales says report

Paying from the wrist is also convincing people to pick up a connected timepiece
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Wearable shipments are being boosted by the introduction of new health tracking apps and features.

That's according to the latest report from analyst firm IDC that reveals serious health monitoring on devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches are benefiting the market in a big way.

Read this: The health tech startups to look out for

"Health is now at the forefront for these devices since companies have started providing actionable insights and prescriptive measures for end users," said IDC's Jitesh Ubrani.

Apple introduced ECG on its Watch Series 4 smartwatch in 2018 and it will also feature on the Series 5 when it launches on 20 September. The sensor offers a more reliable way to closely monitor heart health and help check for disorders like atrial fibrillation.

Samsung revealed it would be adding similar support to its Galaxy Watch Active 2, while many of Google's Wear OS watch clan now come pre-installed with heart health app Cardiogram.

The likes of Fitbit, Apple, Samsung and Garmin are also exploring how it can play a role in monitoring other serious health related issues, including keeping an eye on blood pressure and detecting sleep disorders. Many of these companies have also introduced women's health tracking features over the past 12 months.

Beyond health tracking skills, IDC believes the increased ability to pay from the wrist is helping to shift devices too. "Mobile payment is also starting to become a mainstay as roughly two out of five wrist-worn wearables now include NFC, and many more simply use QR codes to complete transactions," said Ubrani.

Xiaomi is top of the pile

Serious health monitoring features are driving smartwatch sales says report

The report also provides global figures for the companies dominating all things wearable. Despite the Apple Watch's dominance, huge growth from Xiaomi has it sitting at the top of the pile this quarter. This marks a specific change since IDC's report for the last quarter, which had Apple on top of that pile.

In the US, Apple dominates the market, but this report shows that the picture is more varied on a worldwide scale.

As far as that league table of manufacturers goes, Xiaomi's position is obviously explained by its dominance in the enormous Chinese market, which will also account for Huawei's placement in third. IDC points out that Huawei actually bundles trackers and wearables with a lot of its phones, further bumping its numbers up.

As for Samsung and Fitbit, another recent report from Canalys showed that their positions are in flux, with Fitbit struggling to maintain growth and Samsung making huge strides as it ups its wearable gain. However, IDC sees the Fitbit Versa 2 as a remedy for Fitbit's ills, some cause for optimism for the major wearable player.

More good news for smartwatch lovers is that IDC concludes by predicting further growth in the sector through the end of 2019, estimating that the number of shipments made will rise by 21.7% to a total of 152.7 million units. Those are some big numbers, but it all adds up to a position of strength for the smartwatch sector.

You can find more details on the report at IDC's website, if you want to go on a deep-dive into its findings.

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Max Freeman-Mills


Reporter Max Freeman-Mills joined the Wareable team as a journalism graduate. He's gone on to be contributing editor at Pocketlint, as a skilled technology journalist and expert.

In addition, Max has written for The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and has done work for Gizmodo UK and Kotaku UK. 

Max has his finger is firmly on the pulse of wearable tech – ensuring our coverage is the most comprehensive it can be. 

That also involves interviewing CEOs and figureheads from the industry.

Max loves a bit of football, watching and playing to differing degrees of success, and is practically resident at the Genesis Cinema.

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