A combination of device releases, price reductions, and company rationalizations marked the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16) in the worldwide wearables market. According to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, total shipment volumes reached 19.7 million units in 1Q16, an increase of 67.2% from the 11.8 million units shipped in 1Q15.
The research group says that Apple sold 1.5 million smartwatches in 1Q16 to capture 7.5% of the wearables market. The wearable markets includes activity trackers, monitoring devices, wristbands, and optical head-mounted displays. Juniper Research says the Apple Watch has claimed 52% of global smartwatch shipments in 2015, despite only launching at the end of April.
Fitbit was the leader in the category with sales of 4.8 million and 24.5% market share. In second place was China-based Xiaomi with 3.7 million in sales and 19% of the market.
Garmin was in fourth place with 0.9 million in sales (4.6% of the market). Samsung and BBK were tied for fifth place with 0.7 million in sales.
IDC says the first quarter saw its fair share of significant events to entice customers, with multiple fitness trackers and smartwatches introduced at the major technology shows; post-holiday price reductions on multiple wearables, including Apple's Sport Watch; and greater participation within emerging wearables categories, particularly clothing and footwear. Conversely, several start-ups announced headcount reduction or shut down entirely, underscoring how competitive the wearables market has become.
"The good news is that the wearables market continues to mature and expand," noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. "The wearables that we see today are several steps ahead of what we saw when this market began, increasingly taking their cues from form, function, and fashion. That keeps them relevant. The downside is that it is becoming a crowded market, and not everyone is guaranteed success."