Wearable tech sales explored: Just how many devices have been sold?

Digging up the sales numbers of wearable devices

The wearable tech market burst onto the scene with quite a bang and has evolved slowly but surely since. Big brands like Fitbit, Apple and Xiaomi are upping their efforts after early successes but people are still wondering if it really will be the next big thing.

Over 1.433 billion smartphones and 206.8 million tablets were sold in 2015. Those are some seriously big figures, but just how does the fresh face of the wearable sector stack up in comparison and who have been the winners and losers within it?

It's pretty tough to see how the industry is growing without getting down to the nitty gritty stats so that's exactly what we've been researching. In 2015, for instance, around 78.1 million wearables were sold - that's no iPhone numbers but nothing to sniff at either. Estimates for 2016 sales are around 102 million in total.

We don't have figures for every brand and these will be out of date fairly quickly (look out for updates later this year), but here are our findings:

How many Apple Watches have been sold?

Taking a look at the stats for the Apple Watch was always going to be intriguing, partly because Cupertino itself refuses to release figures, a sign that it's not as confident about its smartwatch as its iPhone business.

Recent IDC stats estimate shipments of the device fell by a staggering 55% in the second quarter of 2016, although admittedly the figure is being directly compared to its huge launch quarter and many potential buyers may simply be holding off for the Apple Watch 2.

Since the Apple Watch's much-hyped arrival it is estimated to have sold 14.7 million units up to the end of Q2 of 2016. It's well off the total of run-away leaders Fitbit but still holds up very well considering its high-end price and the fact that it launched late in the game, last spring.

How many Fitbit trackers have been sold?

With a sturdy line-up, Fitbit remains incredibly popular. The fact, confirmed by Fitbit earlier this year, that the new Blaze and Alta devices sold over one million devices each within the space of a month is solid proof of this. That is pretty rapid indeed.

Overall, since 2014, IDC estimates Fitbit has sold 36.7 million trackers in total, 4.8 million of those in the first quarter of 2016. That's big numbers for wearable tech. The figure is well clear of its rivals – Garmin shipped over 30 million less within the same time period - and would obviously be higher if we had stats since the early days of Fitbit.

What are the Xiaomi Mi Band sales figures?

We've got Xiaomi figures up until the first quarter of 2016 so not including the popular Mi Band 2. Xiaomi continues to have a strong presence and was the second best-selling brand of 2015.

From 2014 to 2016's first quarter, figures from IDC estimate the Chinese company has sold a total 16.8 million Mi Band budget trackers. This fits in with the official word coming from Xiaomi showing that it sold 10 million trackers in nine months of 2015, 600,000 in Taiwan alone.

While that's a healthy figure, the big question is how Xiaomi is doing away from its home market. We don't have those figure breakdowns but it's far from a household name in Europe and the US just yet.

How many Samsung smartwatches have been snapped up?

After a rocky start with sub-par devices, Samsung is slowly gaining traction in the wearable market.

The stats are still far from Fitbit and tech rival Apple, but IDC estimates say the Korean firm racked up 7.1 million sales of its Gear smartwatches and Fit wearables from 2014 to the end of 2016's second quarter. That's enough to put it in the top five for most quarters - new products like the Gear IconX wireless earbuds could help it go even further this year.

What about Garmin's figures?

Garmin has sold approximately 6.3 million GPS watches and fitness trackers from 2014 to Q216, according to IDC. That's not too far off the achievements of Samsung, a much larger company with a bigger worldwide presence.

Garmin is certainly in good shape going forward and its tactic seems to be to release a good number of devices, all with slightly different specs, features and pricepoints so there's something for everyone.

How is Android Wear doing?

Android Wear watches continue to lag behind the pack, especially when compared to Apple and Samsung. Estimates from Canalys state 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped in 2014, with IDC's research finding a much healthier 4.1 million units were sold in 2015 – a total for those two years of 4.82 million.

That sounds good but consider that this includes devices from Sony, Samsung, LG, Asus, Huawei, Fossil and Motorola. Moto is thought to have been the Android Wear winner so far and it's estimated to have picked up a tidy 700,000 sales in the first two quarters of this year, partly thanks to the new Moto 360 Sport. The LG Watch Urbane sold 300,000 in Q2 also, a sign that Android Wear sales are picking up.

At the luxury end, Tag Heuer has sold over 100,000 of its $1,500 Connected Wear watch.

Do we have up to date stats for Pebble?

In February 2015 Pebble announced it had reached one million sales and this May, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovksy confirmed to The Verge that he's sold 1.8 million smartwatches so far.

We know 95,000 units were shifted with its Pebble Time Kickstarter campaign and the Pebble 2/Time 2/Core had a further 66,000 backers. But Pebbles are all sold after crowdfunding campaigns, of course, and the Time Round went straight up for pre-order.

And the rest?

Finding figures for the expansive wearable sector was a tricky task. Brands like Jawbone are understandably secretive with their figures, but we managed to discover some other tasty stats and numbers. TomTom took a very respectable 1.1 million sales for its sports watches through 2014 and 2015.

Interestingly BBK, producers of budget kids watches, sold 1.4 million devices in the third quarter of 2015 and the first of 2016 according to estimates from IDC. In fact, in Q3 of last year it matched tech giant Samsung for sales. That's pretty impressive for them, not so much for Samsung.

Meanwhile over at Misfit, the company sold two million units in the 18 months up to August 2015, including 600,000 in China, then outselling Fitbit. For startups and crowdfunding projects, figures can be small but enough to grow - Blocks (5,ooo+ during the campaign), Moov (c. 20,000 during the campaign), Bellabeat (350,000 so far).

How many VR headsets have been sold?

Smartwatches and fitness trackers may, for now, be the wearable sector's mainstream devices but virtual reality looks set to add to, if not overtake, them in terms of sales. Right now there are some pretty outrageous sales estimates flying around, but what's realistic for VR?

A few analysts have estimated one million units or more of the Oculus Rift but those appear to be way off the mark, it seems more likely to be around 80,000. A recent Steam Survey found 66% of users own the rival HTC Vive headset, which is estimated to have sold 100,000 units so far, while just 34% have an Oculus Rift or Oculus Rift DK2 - though of course Rift owners can access games via Oculus Home, not just Steam.

The current version of the Samsung Gear VR sold a confirmed 300,000 in Europe up to May 2016, there aren't any figures for the rest of the world just yet. One nice indication is that Oculus boasted that this April, one million people used a Gear VR - though of course that includes the friends and family of owners too.

Those figures are all dwarfed by Google's cheap Cardboard device, which hit the five million mark, after 19 months, in January 2016. But that's hardly a surprise considering you can grab one for just £15, or even as part of a free giveaway. With Google Daydream for mobile and PlayStation VR for PS4, VR headset sales could really explode at the end of 2016.

Which wearables, smartwatches and VR headsets do you see out and about? Have you bought multiple wearables so far? Let us know in the comments.

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