IDC: the Apple Watch is now number two in the global wearables market

In its first appearance in the wearables market, Apple finds itself within striking distance of the established market leader, Fitbit. According to the International Data Corporation, Apple shipped a total of 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15), just 0.8 million units behind Fitbit's 4.4 million units. Total shipment volume for the quarter came to 18.1 million units, up 223.2% from the 5.6 million units shipped in 2Q14.

"Anytime Apple enters a new market, not only does it draw attention to itself, but to the market as a whole," says Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. " … Now that Apple is officially a part of the wearables market, everyone will be watching to see what other wearable devices it decides to launch, such as smart glasses or hearables."

Apple's arrival had the greatest impact on the smart wearables category, or those devices capable of running third party applications. About two of every three smart wearables shipped this quarter was an Apple Watch, according to IDC.

"Apple has clearly garnered an impressive lead in this space and its dominance is expected to continue," says Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "And, although Fitbit outshipped Apple, it's worth noting that Fitbit only sells basic wearables – a category that is expected to lose share over the next few years, leaving Apple poised to become the next market leader for all wearables."

The company is just getting started with the Apple Watch, having reached just 16 geographic markets to date and starting agreements with third-party retailers. However, what's most important is the continued development of the watchOS platform, says IDC. At its WWDC in June, Apple announced that the next version of watchOS will allow for native applications, which could have a similar effect that iPhones enjoyed when native apps became available.