The total worldwide wearable band market grew 8% year on year in the second quarter (Q2) 2017, led by China’s Xiaomi with shipments of 3.5 million units, closely followed by Fitbit, which shipped 3.3 million units, a 34% year-on-year decline, according to Canalys.
The top two vendors overtook Apple, which only sells smartwatches, notes the research group.However, the tech giant still dominates the smartwatch specific market.
When it comes to the entire wearables market, Apple fell to third place with 2.7 million Apple Watch shipments. Xiaomi and Fitbit, which predominantly sell fitness bands, benefited from stronger sell-through in the quarter, with Xiaomi expanding availability in new markets.
However, Canalys predicts that the smartwatch market will receive a boost in the second half of 2017, driven by cellular-enabled smartwatches, which are forecast to ship 12 million units by the end of the year. With Apple widely expected to include cellular capabilities in the next revision of its Apple Watch, it will secure its position as the key driver of smartwatch growth in the second half of 2017, says the research group. Vendors integrating cellular connectivity into their smartwatches are expected to adjust their go-to-market strategies to complement the new products.
“Apple is poised to capture the cellular smartwatch market by using its strong relationships with operators, which will become critical points of sale for cellular smartwatches and related services,” says Canalys Analyst Jason Low. “Apple is the industry leader in allowing consumers to experience the different Apple Watch styles and functionalities in-store. It is crucial for Apple Stores and Apple’s offline retail partners to adapt quickly to effectively showcase new cellular-enabled use cases as soon as products are available.”